129th General Assembly
Bill analysis http://www.lsc.state.oh.us/analyses129/h0335-i-129.pdf
BIPARTISAN GROUP OF REPRESENTATIVES INTRODUCE LGBT PROTECTION LEGISLATION
From Gongwer News Service, www.gongwer-oh.com, September 27, 2011.
A small bipartisan group of state representatives pushed for approval of a bill that would extend housing and employment protections to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Flanked by fellow representatives who support the bill, joint sponsors Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) stood before a rally of dozens of people, including members of Equality Ohio, to express the importance of passing the legislation (HB 335).
The bill is similar to a proposal that passed the Democrat-controlled House in the last General Assembly but never got a vote in the GOP-led Senate (HB176, 128th General Assembly).
“This remains a very important aspect of Ohio that we need to change in order to make this a prosperous state for one and all,” Rep. McGregor said. “If we are really intent on creating a 21st century economy, then we have to be welcoming to those people with the talent and creativity to take these jobs.”
The bill was introduced during Tuesday’s House session and awaits committee assignment. Twenty-one states as well as Washington D.C. have similar laws to the ones proposed in the bill, Rep. Antonio said. The Ohio House and Senate also have inclusive anti-discrimination policies and Gov. John Kasich has signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination of state employees on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Very simply, this bill will extend civil rights protections in employment, housing and public accommodation by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to protected characteristics of age, race, color, religion, gender or national origin, disability or military status currently in the code,” Rep. Antonio said, adding that with introduction of the bill it was a “good day to be an Ohioan.”
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Charleta Tavarez (D-Columbus). Both Mr. McGregor and Ms. Antonio expressed optimism that the idea behind their legislation would get a fair review in the General Assembly.
“I would say now is a good time to have the conversation again,” Rep. Antonio said.
“As I said earlier, I look forward to their constructive input to the legislation,” Rep. McGregor said of fellow lawmakers. “And ultimately, I look forward to taking a vote that I hope results in the affirmative belief that this is an important piece of legislation for the state of Ohio.”
People protected under the legislation would number in the hundreds of thousands, Equality Ohio Executive Director Ed Mullen said. Seventeen Ohio cities already have anti-discrimination laws on the books prohibiting mistreatment of people based on sexual orientation and in many cases gender identity.
“We live and work in Ohio, we spend lots of money in Ohio and we pay taxes in Ohio,” Mr. Mullen said. “We are not, however, treated equally in Ohio.”
Bonnie McGinnis, a high school English teacher of five years, said she was a good instructor who reached out to students. After it became known she was a lesbian she faced persecution in the community that eventually caused health problems leading to her resignation. She said such issues are not uncommon among gay and lesbian teachers and if legislation would have been in place she could have had the protection to remain in her job.