Commentary

06.02.14

Are We Protecting Our LGBT Citizens?

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This is the fifth in a series of posts focusing on issues we will be tackling at the 2014 ACLU of Ohio biennial conference, Resist. Reclaim. Restore Your Rights!


Can you be fired because of who you love? In Ohio, the answer is still yes, unfortunately.

Ohio has yet to pass non-discrimination laws for housing and employment that would protect people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This major roadblock on the path to LGBT equality is one of the topics that will be covered in the ACLU of Ohio’s biennial conference, taking place in July 2014.

Register now for the 2014 ACLU of Ohio Conference

In 2011, Governor John Kasich renewed an executive order, protecting state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, he did not include gender identity, leaving many of the most vulnerable Ohioans unprotected. There are no statewide protections for non-state employees. Aside from a few municipalities, and the individual policies of some workplaces, people can still lose their jobs, or be refused housing, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ohio lawmakers are simply behind the times. 79% of registered Ohio voters support laws that would protect people from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. People who could be valuable members of the workforce are being left out simply because of who they are.

Furthermore, on April 16, 2014, the Ohio Board of Education voted on the exclusion of sexual orientation from their nondiscrimination policy, making it even more difficult for members of the LGBT community to find a safe workplace. Members of the board argued that including sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination policy would encroach upon the religious beliefs of others. This means that any LGBT educator in Ohio can be fired for no reason other than their sexual orientation.  Students are taught that sexual orientation is a reason for someone to lose their job, and communities could lose valuable educators.

Who suffers because of this inaction?

  • The thousands of LGBT Ohioans who must live in constant fear of losing their jobs, or not receiving housing
  • Their families who are also discriminated against and must see their loved ones suffer.
  • Businesses that struggle to hire or retain employees because they cannot live in an unwelcoming state.
  • The public, who loses out on productive residents who move to other states that are more welcoming to LGBT people.

So, why does this injustice continue?

The Equal Housing and Employment Act, which is currently pending in the Ohio General Assembly, would change Ohio’s nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity, giving Ohio the push it needs towards equality for all people

Sadly, instead of attempting to protect LGBT people, the Ohio legislature is trying to go in the opposite direction of other states that are enacting more LGBT rights. It’s time that Ohio caught up with modern times, and finally protected all of its people.

Please join us on July 26, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss this issue amongst many others. Our Resist. Reclaim. Restore Your Rights! conference will address many current civil liberties issues throughout Ohio.

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