Prizm News / December 18, 2018 / By Bob Vitale

Nickie Antonio
Jeremy Blake
Sandra Kurt







Three LGBTQ officials from Ohio join national call for nondiscrimination and other measures.


By Bob Vitale

Three LGBTQ Ohioans who serve in local and state offices are among 152 elected officials from around the country who’ve  urged the next Congress to pass a nationwide nondiscrimination law, protect transgender Americans, enhance federal efforts to stop new HIV infections and support LGBTQI rights globally.

“LGBTQ political power is growing thanks to the rainbow wave of LGBTQ people who won elected office in November, and this letter is the first sign of us wielding that new power,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute.

The letter was signed by LGBTQ officials at a recent conference in Washington. Its supporters include Ohio state Sen.-elect Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Newark City Council member Jeremy Blake and Summit County Clerk of Courts Sandra Kurt.

Parker said the Republican-controlled House and Senate of the past session failed to advance equality for LGBTQ Americans. Democrats won a majority in the next House, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi promised before the Nov. 6 elections that the long-stalled Equality Act would be a “top priority” for her party.

It’s the top priority of the LGBTQ officials as well.

“Thirty states still lack fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQI people, meaning that LGBTQI people are at risk of being fired, denied housing, and denied services for who they are or whom they love,” the leaders said.

Ohio is among the states without statewide nondiscrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity, and local ordinances cover just 27 percent of state residents.

In addition to the nondiscrimination bill, leaders called on the new Congress to create a Congressional Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS to replace a presidential panel dismissed a year ago by President Donald Trump.

The goal should be to stop new transmissions and address disparities in HIV diagnoses and treatment in communities of color, they said.

The letter also included a call for Congress to fight the Trump administration’s policy assault on transgender rights. Trump wants to reinstate a ban on out trans Americans from serving in the military, and the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a change that would essentially define trans people out of existence when it comes to federal programs.

Finally, the dozens of LGBTQ elected officials said Congress should stand up for the rights of LGBTQ people around the world. They cited administration efforts to tighten rules on asylum, a status often sought by LGBTQ people who are persecuted in their home countries.