Ohio Democrats are condemning Attorney General Dave Yost for joining with other states in a Supreme Court case declaring that federal civil rights laws do not apply to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders or others in the LGBTQ category. Aaron Baer from Citizens for Community Values (CCV) is praising him.
State Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said, “Our attorney general has entered into weighing in and support of a push to discriminate against a group of people. That is appalling.”
Antonio’s opposition to Yost’s decision is consistent with her policy positions and legislative priorities. She has repeatedly tried to get what she calls “The Ohio Fairness Act” passed. If this General Assembly’s iteration of her proposal, Senate Bill 11, becomes law, it will “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, to add mediation as an informal method that the Ohio Civil Rights Commission may use, and to uphold existing religious exemptions under Ohio’s Civil Rights Law.”
“When Dave Yost ran for Attorney General, he ran on a pledge to uphold the law, and set politics aside,” CCV President Aaron Baer told The Ohio Star. “That’s exactly what he’s doing in his brief to the Supreme Court. While activists are trying to push an agenda through the judiciary, Yost is sending a clear message that the courts are no place for an end around the voters.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes only five protected classes: race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The Act also defines “sex” but not as Antonio perceives it.
The terms “because of sex” or “on the basis of sex” include, but are not limited to, because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work, and nothing in section 2000e-2(h) of this title [section 703(h)] shall be interpreted to permit otherwise…”
Yost joined 14 other Republican-led states and the Trump administration in arguing that the Civil Rights law does not extend to LGBTQ groups. Opposing the conservative coalition are 21 Democrat-dominated states.
“This case is about whether the judiciary gets to write new laws or if that should be left to elected legislators,” Yost said in a statement. “The plain language of Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating because of sex, not sexual orientation or gender identity. If the law is to be amended, Congress, not the courts, should be the one doing it.”
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Background Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.