COLUMBUS- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio applauded the introduction of bi-partisan legislation today that would protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is sponsored by Ohio Rep. John Peterson (R-Delaware), Rep. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) and Senator Dale Miller (D-Cleveland).

ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis said, “All Ohioans deserve to be judged by the quality of their work and ability to perform their jobs. It is inherently unfair for employers to punish someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

"This bill signals to businesses worldwide that Ohio is a tolerant, fair state that welcomes all workers. Many businesses have internal non-discrimination policies and prefer to locate in states with similar values. Ohio legislators should move quickly to signal that all are welcome in this state and that employment discrimination of any kind is not tolerated," added Davis.

In May 2007, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland issued an order prohibiting discrimination of state workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill proposed in the Ohio General Assembly would expand this to protect employees at privately owned businesses.

Communities across Ohio have added to a growing chorus of supporters calling for fair treatment of all workers. Currently, 15 communities in Ohio have laws protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and 4 on the basis of gender identity. The most recent additions to this growing list were Dayton in November 2007 and Oxford in March 2008.

Davis concluded, “More and more Ohioans are calling for all employees to be treated equally. Passing a bill that would prohibit discrimination and also strengthen the appeal of Ohio to businesses should be a no brainer for elected officials. Hopefully, they will seize this tremendous opportunity and ensure fairness for all workers.”