Hi, I’m Gwen.
I’m Equality Ohio’s new Statewide Civic Engagement Director.
I want to give an important update to you on the Ohio Fairness Act––which was just introduced by Sen. Nickie Antonio––but first, I need to introduce myself, especially if you don’t live in Northeast Ohio.
I’m Equality Ohio’s new Statewide Civic Engagement Director. It’s my job to dream big with you, and together, create opportunities to make change for and with LGBTQ people.
I’ve been working primarily in Northeast Ohio for the last few years as a regional coordinator. My speciality and focus has been on working with local communities to make change. I’m talking about parents who became champions after their child came out. Pastors whose faith calls them to speak out. People with friends and family who disagree with them on LGBTQ issues, but who keep having the conversation over the holidays anyway. People who believe that when two humans connect and really see each other, that something bigger is possible.
Here’s a sample of some of that work over the last few years.
- Youngstown Passes Housing and Employment Protections for People in the LGBT Community, WKSU
- Olmsted Falls passes LGBT rights ordinance, will consider more comprehensive bill, Cleveland.com
- Akron adds LGBT residents to list of protected classes, establish local civil rights commission, Akron Beacon Journal
- Kent City Council unanimously passes nondiscrimination ordinance, Fusion
- South Euclid City Council passes controversial anti-discrimination ordinance, Cleveland.com
- Cuyahoga County Council Passes Ordinance Expanding LGBT Protections, IdeaStream
Working in local municipalities does more than help people who live in that area––it also helps make the case for the Ohio Fairness Act at the state level. Many legislators who were against it or still learning about LGBTQ issues now have a local version in their own districts.
Here’s your first 2019 update on the Ohio Fairness Act.
The Basics. This should be the same bill as last time. That means it would add LGBTQ people to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio, and it would not affect existing religious exemptions that are already present in Ohio’s law.
What We’re Watching. Being introduced so early in the session means it has strong support––and, it has a Republican co-sponsor.
What To Know. This is a marathon, not a sprint. This legislature is active until December 2020, and that is how long this bill has to pass. We’re here to help make sure it does.
What To Remember. This is not our first push on this. We have significant support––support from the business community (including chambers of commerce from across the state), and a very active community with supporters like you. Last year, we delivered an unprecedented 150+ pieces of testimony on behalf of this bill. Our previous work together has built more momentum for this round.
We’ll let you know at important points in the bill’s life and how we can move forward together.
I look forward to serving with you in my new capacity,
Gwen Stembridge, Statewide Civic Engagement Director, Equality Ohio