The Ohio Civil Rights Commission, a government agency charged with enforcing state laws against discrimination, has come out in support of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in non-discrimination legislation.
In a letter to the editor of the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, G. Michael Payton, executive director of the OCRC, explained the agency’s stance on the Bowling Green ballot initiative to rescind housing and employment protections for LGBT people in the city.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission would like to offer a clarification about the status of Ohio state law relating to civil rights protections for citizens with a different sexual orientation or gender identity. Ohio law provides protection for issues involving housing, employment, public accommodations and credit where the discrimination is a result of a person’s race, sex, national origin, ancestry, religion, disability, military status or age.
If an alleged discriminatory act does not involve one of these protected issues or areas, the OCRC does not have jurisdiction to investigate. To reiterate, statutory laws do not provide any prohibitions or protections against discrimination on account of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Given the cases we have investigated and the many citizens who have described boorish acts of discrimination against them on account of sexual orientation or gender identity, we believe it is beyond doubt that legal protections are warranted against such hateful and intolerant acts. This is precisely why the OCRC, a state agency and Ohio’s leader in promoting equal opportunity, strongly supports the passage of legislation banning discrimination on account of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The OCRC stands with ONE Bowling Green in their quest to ensure that all of Ohio’s citizen — notwithstanding their sexual orientation and/or gender identity — are treated with dignity and respect.
G. Michael Payton
Ohio Civil Rights Commission
ONE Bowling Green is the local ballot question campaign formed to urge Bowling Green voters to approve ordinances 7905 and 7906 this November. A yes vote maintains housing and employment protections for LGBT people.