Bipartisan Ohio Fairness Act Introduced in State Senate

HRC and Equality Ohio, the statewide group working to advance equality, released the following statements on the introduction of the Ohio Fairness Act — crucial legislation that would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations in Ohio. The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the state senate by openly LGBTQ State Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), and has support from nearly 600 businesses in Ohio and across the country.

“No one’s rights should depend on their zip code, but thousands of LGBTQ Ohioans currently live under a patchwork of protections that leaves them and their families at risk of real discrimination,” said HRC Ohio State Director Shawn Copeland. “ Sen. Nickie Antonio and pro-equality champions are driving equality forward in the state senate, but these legislators cannot drive progress alone. It’s time for both chambers to show up for all of their constituents and finally pass the Fairness Act. No matter who they are or whom they love, all Ohioans deserve to be able to live, work and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination.”

Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio said: “We’ve worked to get 22 localities in Ohio to pass local, LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. But you shouldn’t have to move to the big city to feel safe just because you’re LGBTQ. It’s time for Ohio’s legislators to make a real commitment to all LGBTQ Ohioans––urban, suburban and rural––that they have the same right to work hard and provide for their family as everybody else.”

First introduced in the Ohio house in 2009, the Fairness Act is championed by State Senator Antonio who was also the primary sponsor of the bill during her time in the lower chamber. Other cosponsors include Senators Rulli (R), Craig (D), Fedor (D), Maharath (D), O’Brien (D), Sykes (D), Thomas (D), Williams (D) and Yuko (D). The Ohio Business Competes coalition, led by TransOhio, Equality Ohio, the ACLU of Ohio and HRC, has worked to secure unprecedented business support for this crucial legislation.

Ohio is one of 30 states without explicit non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people, meaning they remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services. The pro-equality majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is soon poised to begin considering the Equality Act — a historic federal bill that would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service.

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