A bipartisan team of legislative leaders in both the Ohio Senate and House held a press conference today to announce their intention to re-introduce the Ohio Fairness Act, a piece of legislation which would grant nondiscrimination protections to the LGBTQ+ community in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.
Today’s press conference included both legislative leaders and advocates who spoke to the necessity of passing the Ohio Fairness Act. Below are some quotes from each of the individuals assembled.
Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood)
Upon announcing his proposed budget recently, Governor DeWine highlighted a line item that would provide a public relations campaign that would attract people to the state of Ohio. He identified Ohio as a progressive state. Well, I would like to suggest that we send a strong message to our new Zoom economy and future transplants by passing the Fairness Act and sending the strong message that Ohio is open for business and is a state that welcomes all families.
Senator Michael Rulli (R-Salem)
What is different this time than the last bill? The biggest difference is we’re willing to do a lot of heavy lifting and we want to make this a reality. We want to get this to the Governor’s desk. When you look at a bill as clean as this, it makes perfect sense that this could be a reality in Ohio.
Representative Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood)
This is the 10th consecutive introduction of the Ohio Fairness Act. I started working on the introduction of this in 2003. As we work to grow our economy and lower unemployment in the state, we must not allow discrimination of any form in our state to occur. Qualified and competent employees can currently lose their jobs because of who they are and who they love. Ohio should be a welcoming place to attract and retain massively talented workers.
Representative Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville)
I am a conservative small government Republican who believes in nondiscrimination and that discrimination has no place in employment or business or economy. As a conservative, I believe in upward mobility, prosperity and growth, things that our party was founded on and believe that [the Ohio Fairness Act]fits very well if you talk about employment and job growth and prospects for our state.
Kevin Shimp, Ohio Chamber of Commerce
In Ohio and across the nation, all people deserve the right to do their job without fear of being discriminated against and everyone deserves equal opportunity and equal protection under the law…For Ohio employers who want the best and brightest employees working for them, our state cannot be perceived as being hostile towards the LGBTQ community without jeopardizing their access to a diverse and talented workforce.
Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, Equality Ohio
So much has changed since the Ohio Fairness Act was introduced in the last General Assembly. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our world is a difference place. In many ways, Ohio has been at the forefront of the pandemic response, putting the health and safety of residents, employees and students first. Despite these efforts, the disparities already faced by members of the LGBTQ community were exacerbated, placing the most marginalized and vulnerable in our communities at even greater risk of job loss, eviction and other hardships…It is 2021, and it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people causing them to face barriers in the basic areas of their lives simply because of who they are and who they love. And discrimination is happening…We need the Ohio Fairness Act.
Tom Grote, EDGE Innovation Hub
Innovation requires an environment where innovators feel safe and are safe. Banning discrimination will accelerate innovation in Ohio and make Ohio more competitive and more prosperous. Banning discrimination in Ohio will create more jobs. It’s smart, it’s time, and it’s the right thing to do.
Eliana Turan, LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland
We need today to recommit ourselves and our home state of Ohio towards equality. Some may ask why this moment is different, yet we collectively feel that the time is now. The overlapping disease of COVID-19, conspiracy dependency and systemic bigotry have pushed our neighborhoods, our state, and our very republic to the brink, and we must do the hard work of healing, validating, and bring back together. A vote for equality will strengthen our state, will bring jobs and investment, strengthen our economy, and transform our state from a place where LGBTQ+ people flee from to a place they may flock towards.
Reverend Luther Young, Pastoral Leader, Woodland Christian Church
The evident truth is that the boundaries of liberty proclaimed in 1776 and 1789 only included some men. The truth of the matter is our nation’s declaration of liberty and freedom are etched into the earth stolen from indigenous people, pinned with the blood of enslaved Africans, sealed with the struggles of women, and enveloped in the oppression of LGBTQ people…I am not naïve to the fact that there are those people who do not fully understand LGBTQ experiences and there are those who feel that same gender relationships and transgender identities conflict with their values. Although I may wish that all people were fully affirming and accepting of LGBTQ people, I acknowledge that there are many who disagree with me. This is part of living in a free society. We have the freedom to disagree. However, disagreement should not result in a loss of liberty.
Ben Guess, ACLU of Ohio
As a person of faith, as a religious leader, as an advocate for civil liberties and civil rights, and as a gay person myself in a 20-year relationship and marriage, I believe Ohio has been on the wrong side of history on this issue. Today, we are poised to right that wrong by advancing common sense nondiscrimination protections…Please Ohio, let’s get this done.