The Equal Housing and Employment Act (“EHEA”) is one of Equality Ohio’s legislative priorities. The bill adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the categories of people protected by Ohio’s laws prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, as race, gender, religion, and other categories have long been protected.
Discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a widespread problem. A recent study at UCLA Law School found that 9.2% of gay, lesbian or bisexual people were fired or denied employment based on their sexual orientation, and 37.7% were harassed on the job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender people are four times more likely to be unemployed than the general population, and that loss of productivity is costly for everyone.
EHEA will most likely have a positive impact on the Ohio economy, making Ohio a more welcoming state for both employees and employers. Non-discrimination policies have been adopted by many major corporations because they recognize that adopting non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity allow them to attract the best and brightest employees from around the country, retain graduates from the top universities and colleges in Ohio, and compete with companies based in other states. Recent studies also suggest that employees are more productive when they do not fear discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and that all employees are more productive in workplaces where people don’t fear revealing their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Non-discrimination laws and policies are very common in government and business in Ohio and throughout the country. Both the Ohio House and Senate include have non-discrimination policies; Governor Kasich signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination for state employees on the basis of sexual orientation; 17 Ohio cities, including Columbus, Cincinnati, Athens, and Yellow Springs, have non-discrimination laws; 12 of Ohio’s public four-year universities have inclusive non-discrimination policies; many Ohio companies large and small, such as Cardinal Health, The Limited Brands, Kroger and Nationwide, have inclusive non-discrimination policies; and, 21 other states have passed similar legislation.
The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Ohio’s non-discrimination laws. According to a 2009 poll, nearly 72% of all Ohioans and 65% of Ohio Republicans support these non-discrimination laws. In addition, EHEA has bi-partisan support, co-sponsored by Representatives Ross McGregor and Nickie Antonio in the House and Senator Michael Skindell in the Senate. In 2008, a similar bill received the support of all House Democrats and 5 House Republicans to pass in the House. A broad range of Ohio businesses, local jurisdictions, and faith leaders support EHEA.
To show your support of EHEA, please sign Equality Ohio’s petition.