COLUMBUS — Today, Senators Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and Representatives Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) and Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) reintroduced the Ohio Fairness Act, which will prohibit discrimination against Ohio's LGBTQ community.
The Ohio Fairness Act was introduced with the broadest bipartisan coalition of legislative support for the second General Assembly in a row, with multiple Republicans in the Ohio Senate joining with Democratic colleagues in both chambers as co-sponsors.
The introduction of this bill was celebrated by Ohio Business Competes, a nonpartisan coalition of over 1,000 businesses, non-profit organizations, labor unions, and universities supporting statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Ohioans.
"As a person of faith, as an advocate for civil rights, and as a gay person myself, I believe Ohio has been on the wrong side of history, but today we are poised to right that wrong by advancing commonsense nondiscrimination protections. The time has come for Ohio lawmakers to do the fair thing, to pass this legislation that will make our state more inclusive, safe and just for all who live and work here. Fairness, no more, no less. That is what this legislation is about," said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director J. Bennett Guess.
Kevin Shimp, Director of Labor and Legal Affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce said, "The Ohio Chamber of Commerce supports the Fairness Act because discrimination in the workplace is toxic. Discrimination hurts an employer's bottom line since employees who feel discriminated against are less productive and more likely to seek another place to work. The enactment of the Ohio Fairness Act would make clear that discrimination of any kind is not acceptable in Ohio and demonstrates the Buckeye State is welcoming for everyone."
"We were able to make a tremendous amount of progress on this legislation in the last General Assembly, and with an even broader coalition of cross-partisan, multi-industry support for these protections, it's undeniable how popular providing these protections will be," said Equality Ohio Director of External Relations, Siobhan Boyd-Nelson.
"This moment shouldn't be understated," said James Knapp, Chair of TransOhio, the state's largest transgender equality organization. "When people are able to bring their full authentic selves to work, they're both happier and more productive. The trans community is full of talented individuals, and I am so glad that today's youth will see that there are some lawmakers that support them."
Shawn Copeland, State Director for the Human Rights Campaign said, "The Ohio Fairness Act is crucial legislation that would ensure all LGBTQ Ohioans have protections under state law from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. This bipartisan legislation reflects the bipartisan support for equality in Ohio and nationwide. More than 389,000 LGBTQ Ohioans live under a patchwork of anti-discrimination protections, but the passage of this bill would fundamentally change that, moving the state and this country closer to the fundamental promise of equality for all."