Home Opinion OPINION: Ohioans must support an end to LGBT discrimination

OPINION: Ohioans must support an end to LGBT discrimination

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Rainbow flag in San Fransisco, California. Photo via Benson Kua on Flickr.

A bill in the Ohio House would protect LGBT persons from workplace discrimination. Opinion writer Tim Zelina calls Ohioans to show support for the legislation.

The landmark Supreme Court case that granted gay couples the right to marry, Obergefell v Hodges, was decided nearly three years ago. While personal biases may take generations to fade away, many Americans feel as if the LGB side of LGBT is relatively equal to their straight counterparts.

Despite the longstanding legal protection for the right to marry, many states still do not have anti-discrimination laws on the books for LGBT persons. Especially in “at will employment” states like Ohio, employers are allowed to fire or deny job advancement to persons on the basis of their sexuality and gender orientation.

This legal discrimination is a constant terror for people trying to find jobs in socially conservative communities. Something as little as a relationship status on facebook can cost them their job, and they would have no legal recourse against their former employer.

It can be even worse for transgender people who, especially early in their sex transition, would have little to no ability to hide their identity, as Ohio still prohibits changing your legal sex even once a person is post-sex-transition. This forces many of the transgender community to stay in the closet lest their bosses hold dangerous prejudices.

The Ohio legislature is now seeking to address these issues. Ohio House Bill 160 will update the state code to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity.

With the passage of this bill, LGBT persons will be safe from unfair discrimination in a state that offers very little legal protection for workers in the event of termination. Firing an employee for their sexual orientation or gender identity would earn the employer the wrath of the Ohio Commerce Department.

Any civically-minded person should support this bill, even if one is an adamant advocate for economic freedom. There is simply no religious or moral basis to outright ban LGBT people from working in a non-religious organization. To allow this sort of discrimination is hatred based on cruel prejudices, and this should not be endorsed anywhere in a nation that values freedom and the right to happiness.

This bill does not force religious groups to include LGBT persons in its ranks; it simply mandates that if you are apart of the private, secular sector, you cannot terminate a person for belonging to the LGBT community. It’s fair to all people, and it gives a historically oppressed minority some respite from the personal biases of some individuals.

Ohioans, call your state House representative and request they vote for this bill. The LGBT community of Ohio deserves these protections.

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