Ohio Fairness Act - HB160

In May 2017, Ohio Rep. Nickie Antonio introduced the Ohio Fairness Act to Ohio's State Congress. This is at least the fifth attempt to pass legislation that would add non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

After nearly a year in limbo, the bill finally had at least one committee hearing in January but has since stalled out. I had the opportunity to speak in front of the committee, sharing one of my experiences of blatant discrimination based on my LGBTQ identity.

After the hearing, the Freedom for All Americans campaign wrote a profile about me as part of their effort to highlight the discrimination LGBTQ people face across the country.

He told me I couldn’t live there [in the apartment] because he wanted a ‘family friendly household.’ I hadn’t broken any part of the lease or done anything wrong. I never even met my landlord – he only communicated with me through my roommate.
— https://www.freedomforallamericans.org/ohio-writer-activist-uses-discrimination-experience-fight-transgender-people/

 

If HB160 isn't passed by the committee and then the House of Representatives and Senate by the end of 2018, it will expire and we'll have to begin the process again...for the sixth time. At this point, about three quarters of Ohioans think this bill should exist, so for many State Reps in the GOP-controlled State Congress, it's a dangerous vote. Vote against it and you risk being labeled a bigot and drawing the ire of LGBTQ people and their allies. Vote in favor of HB 160, and you might find yourself the target of conservative PAC campaign ads or lose funding from powerful conservative supporters. And so, the safest option is to avoid a vote entirely and that's precisely what's happened for nearly a decade of proposed bills.

If you're wondering how to help, well there are numerous options. The short list:

For Ohio Residents:

  1. Contact your state representative and senator and demand a vote on HB 160.
  2. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about why you think this bill is necessary.
  3. Talk about it. With your friends, your family, your dog, your barista, your dental hygienist, the Lyft driver, your...well you get the idea.

Residents of the other 49 United States:

  1. Do you know the laws in your state? 31 states do not have full protections for LGBTQ people. Find out more about your state's laws here and here. Educate yourself on the realities of LGBTQ discrimination. Many people assume that marriage equality was the last summit for LGBTQ rights, meanwhile conservative groups have dedicated themselves to targeting other rights and have been successful in some cases.
  2. If you live in one of those 31 states, there are likely organizations campaigning for LGBTQ rights. Do some searching and get involved. 
  3. Talk about it. With your friends, your family, your dog, your barista, your dental hygienist, the Lyft driver, your...well you get the idea.

I believe that one of the greatest challenges for the advancement of any oppressed group is a lack of knowledge and communication. I base this only on my perception and experiences, not any facts, statistics, or anything verifiable, but I feel like I'm not too far off-base. That's why I won't shut up about it, but I'd like some help.