Prizm News / February 11, 2019 / By Bob Vitale

Democrat Nickie Antonio introduced nondiscrimination bills in every General Assembly session during her eight years in the Ohio House. Now in the Ohio Senate, she’s preparing a new version of the Ohio Fairness Act. (Ohio House photo)

The bill would add gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation to state nondiscrimination laws.

By Bob Vitale 

State Sen. Nickie Antonio says she will reintroduce legislation this week that would outlaw discrimination in Ohio based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

“People deserve basic human dignity and rights in employment and housing,” the Lakewood Democrat said in announcing her plans Monday. “My bill will help Ohio become a safer, more welcoming place for all Ohio’s current and future residents.” 

The recently convened session of the Ohio General Assembly will be the fifth straight in which Antonio has proposed a version of the Ohio Fairness Act, which would add the three new protected classes to state law that currently ban discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, ancestry, national origin, disability, family status or military status. 

The nondiscrimination bill would cover employment, housing and public accommodations. 

Ohio is one of 29 states whose nondiscrimination laws exclude all LGBTQ people. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised a vote on a federal bill. At the local level, 20 Ohio cities and Cuyahoga County have passed nondiscrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Antonio has said she hopes to add Republican sponsors to the latest version of her nondiscrimination bill. Republicans, who control both chambers of the legislature, allowed a House committee hearing on the bill last session but never scheduled a vote. 

Gov. Mike DeWine has said in the past that he opposes expanding nondiscrimination laws in Ohio, and he voted against federal legislation in 1996 as a U.S. senator. 

But he issued an executive order shortly after being sworn in as governor on Jan. 14 that prohibits discrimination against state employees based on their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
Twitter: @Bob_Vitale