Ohio Fairness Act would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ community

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 7:32 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - More than one in three LGBTQ Americans faced some kind of discrimination in the past year, according to the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute.

The State of the LGBTQ Community in 2020 - Center for American Progress

19 Investigates found is not illegal in Ohio to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We spoke with one lawmaker who continues to fight to change that.

State Senator Nickie Antonio (D- Lakewood) told us times have changed, and most people know and have loved ones in the LGBTQ community.

“They know that we are—I’m a part of the LGBTQ community-- that we are your friends, your neighbors, and that we contribute right alongside with everyone else,” Antonio said.

But Antonio said Ohio hasn’t changed with the times.

“People can lose their job, be denied housing, or be denied service at a restaurant just because of who they are or who they love,” she said.

That’s why for years during her time in both the Ohio House and Senate, Antonio has introduced the Ohio Fairness Act.

It would provide protections for members of the LGBTQ community in employment, housing, and in public.

Right now, she said Ohio is a “patchwork of protections” with some protections in place in more than 30 cities and townships statewide.

But that can be confusing.

“As you can imagine, that gets a little complicated, when you think about where do I want to live, where do I want to want my kids to go to school?” she said.

The Ohio Fairness Act is gaining momentum this year, with joint sponsorship from Republican and Democratic leaders in both the Ohio House and Senate.

The bill also has support from more than 1,000 businesses statewide.

“If we’re going to compete on a national and international level, then Ohio needs to be a place that welcomes all people, all families, including members of the LGBTQ community,” Antonio said.

Senator Antonio’s bill has been introduced in both chambers.

State lawmakers are working on the budget right now, so she hopes it will get some hearings after that.

She is optimistic for its future.

If you’d like to learn more about federal protections already in place for LGBTQ workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is hosting a free webinar Monday, June 28 from 1-2:30 p.m. in recognition of Pride Month.

Local speakers from the EEOC Cleveland field office will be speaking along with other officials. You can register here:

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