Two Ohio representatives introduced a bill Wednesday that would bar discrimination against LGBT Ohioans in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
The bill, called the “Ohio Fairness Act,” was introduced by Reps. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) and Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) and is similar to Senate Bill 11.
“As we work to grow our economy and lower unemployment, we must not allow discrimination of any form to occur,” Skindell said in a statement. “Qualified and competent employees can currently lose their jobs because of who they are or whom they love. Ohio should be a welcoming place to attract and retain the most talented workers. This legislation will also provide equity and fairness in the housing market.”
Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, noted that more than two dozen localities across Ohio have “passed local, LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.”
“But that only protects about a quarter of Ohioans. You shouldn’t have to move to the city to feel protected from discrimination at work, in accessing housing, and when purchasing goods or services,” she said. “It’s time for Ohio’s legislators to make a commitment to LGBTQ Ohioans—urban, suburban and rural—that they have the same right to work hard and provide for their families as everybody else. We applaud Representatives Skindell and Hillyer for introducing the Ohio Fairness Act with bipartisan support.”
Citizens for Community Values President Aaron Baer called the bill the “single greatest threat to religious freedom, parental rights, and the privacy and safety of women and children.”
“Across the country this legislation has been used to force girls to compete against boys in high school sports, require women’s homeless shelters to let men bathe and bunk with women, and terminate public employees because of their professed Christian faith,” he said, claiming that the bill should be called the “Ohio Unfairness Act.”
“Ohio is a diverse and tolerant state. If passed, this legislation would punish and silence anyone that simply wants to honor their faith, and ensure women still have fair access to athletics and private spaces,” he continued. “We call on every elected official to stand for the families, ministries, and businesses in Ohio that would be harmed by this bill, and to oppose the #UnFairnessAct.”
Citizens for Community Values issued an action alert calling on its supporters to contact their state representatives and speak out against the bill.
“The truth is, this bill doesn’t create equality,” the organization said. “It creates massive inequality by making Christians, women, and children second-class citizens by restricting their religious freedom and privacy rights.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Ohio Statehouse” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 2.0.