The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) was voted down in a referendum at the beginning of this month. HERO extended nondiscrimination protections to include numerous classes of people on the basis of race, age, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy. Opponents, however, insisted that the ordinance would allow men to enter women's bathrooms in order to sexually harass women. In fact, HERO did no such thing. Common Misconceptions The fact is that nondiscrimination ordinances and laws provide much-needed protections to minority groups. Most people don't realize that the law in Ohio, and many other states, currently does not protect LGBT people from being fired from their jobs, refused service at restaurants, or evicted from their apartments solely for being gay or transgender. Some states have gone so far as to pass state laws that prohibit local nondiscrimination laws.

Most people don’t realize that Ohio has no laws protecting people from being fired from their jobs, denied housing, or refused service simply for being LGBT.

This is not fair. By not explicitly protecting people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender from discrimination, the law denies them the same opportunities it affords others. Still Without Protection Currently, nondiscrimination legislation has been proposed in the form of House Bill 389 in Ohio. HB 389 updates Ohio's nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Similar legislation has been proposed in the last ten sessions of the Ohio General Assembly, which means that our state legislators have been voting down nondiscrimination protections for the past twenty years.

The Ohio legislature has been voting down LGBT nondiscrimination bills for the past twenty years.

In an age and place where 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT, LGBT teens are at a much higher risk for suicide than their straight peers, and "trans panic" defenses make injuring or murdering transgender people legal, we need legislation that at least affirms equality for LGBT people in terms of housing, employment, and public services.