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Ohio lawmakers considering adding the LGBTQ community to statewide anti-discrimination protections

Posted at 11:31 PM, Jan 31, 2018

Testimony got underway Wednesday at a hearing in Columbus, for a bill that would add the LGBTQ community to state-wide anti-discrimination protections.

Right now, in roughly 80% of Ohio, LGBTQ people can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, or public accommodation all because of who they are and who they love.
But for the first time, Ohio is seriously considering changing that.

"Cleveland was up against the Bay Area and Seattle, we were considering offers throughout the country," said Jason Rudman.

Rudman lives in Cleveland with his husband and two kids. He's living there because his family is protected.

"If we go outside of Cleveland to some place in Ohio where there is not protection, then he faces the real possibility of not being allowed into a hotel because he has two daddies," he said.

In nearly 80% of Ohio, gay, lesbian and trans Ohioans can be denied housing, employment, and public accommodation. The state's anti discrimination laws protect gender and race, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

"There is a fundamental economic issue here because cities and states that win, attract talent," said Rudman.

Rudman testified in front of an Ohio House of Representatives committee Wednesday, in support of the Ohio Fairness Act, a bill looking to add LGBTQ people as a protected class to the state's non-discrimination ordinance.

Rudman told lawmakers, his family nearly turned down the job that brought him here, because the state doesn't yet protect him. Rudman argues for that reason, Ohio is losing out on a lot of talent.

Take for instance, Amazon -- considering only cities that have anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBTQ community, for it's massive second headquarters.

"The purchasing power of the LGBT community in this country is approaching $1 trillion. We contribute tax dollars, we continue to grow our communities. It is good business sense to make sure we have a level playing field," said Rudman.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is very publicly supporting the Ohio Fairness Act. The chamber testified Wednesday as well, saying in part, "This is a critical part of the work we must do to create the economic conditions for our state, and its residents to thrive."

Ohio is one of 30 states without LGBT anti-discrimination laws. 

The bill still needs to have a committee vote. If it passes, it will then move on for a vote in the full Ohio House of Representatives.