Commentary

05.15.15

We Need Real Protections For the LGBT Community

By

rippling rainbow banner

After Indiana’s government amended its Religious Freedom Restoration Act in April, it’s clear there still is no comprehensive nondiscrimination protection there for LGBT populations. The act offers “anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians only in 11 Indiana communities where such protections already exist.”

This Is Important to Ohioans

As an Ohioan, you might say, “So what?”

But when your neighbors are denied rights, in the truest sense you are as well. It’s in your interest, as much as theirs, to advocate that this wrong be righted. Even more so since Ohio dodged its own RFRA last year.

With Liberty and Justice For All?

Marriage equality hinges on the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected ruling in June. Regardless when or if marriage equality is achieved, conservatives in a number of states are responding with RFRA initiatives like Indiana’s to keep equality away from LGBT citizens, and protect the “right” to use a religious blanket to justify refusal to deal equally with LGBT people.

Only 18 states have statewide employment non-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

Existing codes in many states do not protect LGBT people from numerous forms of discrimination in home buying or renting.

Are current national and local protections “good enough?”

No, just as an example, there are no broad, federal protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment and housing.

The Answer Is

As the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board stated recently, we need to pass comprehensive statewide LGBT protections. If nationwide marriage equality is granted by the Supreme Court, Ohio cannot be a state allowing gay couples to marry on one day, but be denied a new apartment or fired from their jobs on the next.

Only 18 states have statewide employment non-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

We also must reject ploys to allow religious freedom to be co-opted for discriminatory purposes as the existing RFRA in Indiana does. We cannot allow LGBT Ohioans to suffer these discriminations.

Fred Ross is a volunteer with the ACLU of Ohio.

Comments are closed.