State Reps. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus) and Greta Johnson (D-Akron) offered sponsor testimony this morning on House Bill 262, legislation to allow a municipal corporation to request assistance from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) in enforcing local discrimination ordinances.
“As the state has been slow to enact much-needed anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual orientation and identity, it is wonderful to see municipalities stepping up and creating their own local ordinances,” said Johnson. “However, not all localities are properly equipped to enforce these important laws and it is crucial that we ensure additional assistance is readily available.”
Under current law, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission can only enforce state anti-discrimination laws. HB 262 would allow residents whose municipalities may not have the resources to provide their own local civil rights commissions to also rely on the OCRC when a local anti-discrimination ordinance has been violated.
“While large cities have the resources to enforce these new rules through the creation of citywide civil rights commissions, the costs of these commissions are sometimes restrictively high for smaller cities with limited resources,” said Stinziano. “This bill would serve as a tool for municipalities throughout our state to ensure that no Ohioan can be discriminated against.”
Ohio is currently one of 28 states without clear, inclusive, non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Legislation to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of classes protected from discrimination under Ohio law is currently awaiting its first hearing in the Ohio House of Representatives.