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Ohio Will Get the Gay Games. Discrimination Protection? Not So Much

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On the heels of Cleveland securing the 2014 Gay Games comes word that Ohio’s hard fought battle for anti-discrimination laws is kaput. A bill that would have made illegal workplace, housing, and social services discrimination against gays and lesbians is dead in Ohio’s Republican-controlled Senate after passing swiftly in the House. Cue the typical excuses.

Step right up, because we’ve got everything from “there will be too many lawsuits” and “it’s another burden for small businesses” to “we don’t even need these laws” as reason not to make Ohio the 22nd state with anti-discrimination laws on the books.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, said he can’t recall many bills assigned to the Senate Rules Committee ever getting more than one hearing or sent for a vote by the full Senate. House Bill 176 has been assigned to the Senate Rules Committee by Harris, and may remain stuck there, according to other senators..

“I have a lot of reservations,” Seitz said. “There probably have been bills that have come out of Rules but I would be hard-pressed to think of some.”

Anytime you allow another basis for people to sue for discrimination, Seitz said, the burden shifts to the employer to prove non-discrimination. “It’s not so clear-cut as proponents would have you believe that it’s all about somebody saying, ‘I’m not going to hire you because you are gay,’ ” he said. “There are all kinds of legal intricacies.”

Such legislation also could trigger creation of new affirmative action programs in the state, he said. Ohio civil rights statutes already make it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age or ancestry.

Finally, Seitz questioned whether such legislation is even necessary: “Given that so many companies have voluntarily adopted these kinds of policies, there are plenty of employment opportunities for folks regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Oh, but what about religion?!

Unlike past bills, HB 176 exempts religious groups and businesses with less than 15 workers. It also incorporates exemptions built into other anti-discrimination laws, such as the “Miss Murphy” provision of the Fair Housing Act, which allows owner-occupants some choice about whom to share their homes with.

By:           editor editor
On:           Sep 30, 2009
Tagged: , , ,

  • 13 Comments
    • YellowRanger
      YellowRanger

      …And we’re giving these bigotards all the tourist revenue that comes with taking the gay games to Cleveland.

      Nice.

      Really, who the fuck(outside of Ohio) thought this was a good idea?

      Sep 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scottyscott
      scottyscott

      I do! We gays tend not stay and fight where we’re needed, we run to the coasts where we’ll be safer (I did it too). It’s noce to see that we can represent that’s not our home territory.

      Sep 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jack
      Jack

      This is inexcusable!

      I can’t believe, that with the Games being nearly five years into the future, that the site selection can’t be revoked and reassigned (at this early date).

      Gays should not be taking their tourist dollars to anywhere in Ohio.

      Although I don’t personally agree, there seems to be some sentiment that a coastal metropolis is out. There have to be some good alternative venues. What about Pittsburgh or Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. How about a nice progressive college town? Let’s hear some suggestions Queerty readers!

      Please don’t reward Ohio.

      Sep 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AlwaysGay
      AlwaysGay

      Get democratic state senators elected next time and have the Ohio congress to vote on anti-discrimination in the next session of congress.

      Sep 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      @AlwaysGay: I think you probably meant legislature, not Congress. As a liberal Democrat, I believe citizens in every state should be working to have candidates elected that will support anti-discrimination laws and in support of laws against hate crimes.

      The fact remains, this is not the case in Ohio.

      If the games remain slated for Ohio, I will BOYCOTT, and I will encourage others to do the same. How can gays, as a group, have any political credibility if we willing support bigoted regimes with our discretionary dollars?

      Sep 30, 2009 at 8:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ
      BJ

      @Jack: I totally agree with you.

      And, Maine should not be on the list of alternate site considerations.

      Sep 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Schteve
      Schteve

      Of course religious conservatives are thrilled anti-discrimination laws cover themselves. But heaven forbid they have to share that special treatment with the gays!

      Oct 1, 2009 at 12:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James
      James

      Ohio Democratic Party Praises Passage of H.B. 176

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
      September 15, 2009
      Contact: Seth Bringman
      614-221-6563 ext. 145

      Ohio Democratic Party Praises Passage of H.B. 176
      Bill Prohibits Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
      COLUMBUS – Today, the Ohio Democratic Party praised the passage of H.B. 176, the Equal Housing and Employment Act, a bill to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. All House Democrats supported the bill. It is the first bill that was passed in the Statehouse when legislators returned to session today and the first bill in our state’s history that would expand rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ohioans.

      “With today’s historic vote, we are one step closer to ensuring that Ohioans will not be fired or kicked out of their homes just because of who they are or who they love,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. “The fact that all House Democrats supported H.B. 176 is a testament to our Party’s commitment to equality for all Ohioans. I congratulate Equality Ohio and their coalition partners, the Human Rights Campaign and Stonewall Democrats, as well as Representative Dan Stewart, House Leadership and all who worked so diligently to make passage of this bill possible. We urge Senate President Bill Harris to move it through committee and to a vote on the Senate floor.”

      The LGBT Caucus of the Ohio Democratic Party joined LGBT groups in working to pass this bill. The Ohio Democratic Party is the only State Party in the country with a full-time staff member dedicated to outreach to the LGBT community.
      -30-

      Paid for and authorized by the Ohio Democratic Party,
      Not authorized by any federal candidate or campaign committee,
      Chris Redfern, Chairman, 340 East Fulton St, Columbus, Ohio 43215 43215.

      Oct 2, 2009 at 10:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      @James: It is gratifying to know that the anti-discrimination bill has passed the HOUSE.

      James, I suggest that you re-read the original post. I understand it to say that the anti-discrimination bill is now in the Senate rules committee with little chance that it will ever see the floor of the REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED SENATE.

      Not only is it unlikely (according to what I have read) that this bill will ever be passed by the Senate, but it is also equally improbable that the scripture-quoting Governor Ted Strickland (masters/divinity) would ever sign such a bill into law.

      I hope I am wrong, and I am confident that you will inform me if I am. This is something I would love to be wrong about.

      However, I’m afraid that your posting of the media release about the House passage will give Queerty readers a mistaken impression about the state of Ohio (pun intended).

      Oct 2, 2009 at 11:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James
      James

      oops, Brian I think you made a mistake about Governor Strickland. I think you should Read Governor Strickland’s response to the passage of HB 176.

      http://www.governor.ohio.gov/News/PressReleases/2009/September2009/News91509/tabid/1229/Default.aspx

      Governor Applauds Bipartisan House Passage of HB 176

      Columbus, Ohio – Governor Ted Strickland today issued the following statement on the House passage of HB 176, the Equal Housing and Employment Act, a bipartisan bill joint-sponsored by Rep. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) and Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield).

      “I applaud the leadership of House Speaker Armond Budish, Rep. Dan Stewart and Rep. Ross McGregor, as well as the bipartisan group of House members who today affirmed that Ohio is a welcoming and inclusive state. This legislation will help attract and retain the talent Ohio businesses need to foster lasting economic growth and prosperity. I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to sign this bill into law. This is an important step forward for Ohio, as nondiscrimination in employment and housing will ensure that all of our people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

      Oct 3, 2009 at 8:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @James: Thanks, James. I can’t wait to buy a drink for you if this happens. Do you have any good media releases about the Senate status? The few gays that I know in Ohio are not nearly as optimistic as you. I so hope that our realism is unwarranted.

      Oct 3, 2009 at 9:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James
      James

      Brian I think i will be waiting for that drink for a while. My point with the other post was to point out that Ohio Democrats, our Democrat Governor and other Democrat Statewide officials support HB 176. Our problem is the Republican controlled Senate who do not support this bill.

      http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Portals/0/Executive%20Orders/Executive%20Order%202007-10S.pdf

      http://www.buckeyestateblog.com/hb_176_is_officially_dead_in_the_state_senate

      My hopes are that you help us in Ohio expose the Republican Leadership in the Senate.

      Oct 3, 2009 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian
      Brian

      @James: I will look up the name of the person in charge of the Senate Rules Committee (Seitz?), and I will write a letter in support of the bill. I doubt it will do much good since I am not a resident of Ohio.

      Oct 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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