Ohio lawmaker pushes for protections for gays in jobs, housing

Ohio is among more than two dozen states where discrimination in housing and employment against gay and lesbian people is legal but state Rep. Nickie Antonio, who is openly gay, says it’s time to change that.

“They — we — should not have to fear that they’ll be evicted from home based on their gender identity or fired from their job based on who they love,” said Antonio, D-Lakewood.

Antonio re-introduced a bill Thursday that would update Ohio’s civil rights law for the first time in 50 years and add protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ohioans.

“If we are to make Ohio competitive and appealing to top employers across the state and recruit from across the country to attract and keep a skilled, creative workforce, Ohio should protect her workers and join the 21st century,” Antonio said. She noted that businesses, universities and other institutions have policies protecting rights of LGBT workers.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Thursday “I don’t want anybody being discriminated against because they happen to be gay. I don’t favor discrimination in any way so I’ll check it out….I haven’t heard much about this but if it’s happening, we have to deal with it.”

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On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, was instrumental in getting an employment non-discrimination measure passed in the Senate but it never passed the House.

Antonio said the push to update Ohio’s civil rights to add protections for LGBT people has been going on for more than a decade. She said she remains optimistic that she can convince her colleagues to embrace the bill this time around. But there are no Republican co-sponsors — a sign that it faces an uphill battle.

In June 2015 in a case originating in Ohio, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the right for same-sex couples to marry is constitutionally guaranteed.

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