Ohio State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D) has picked up the gauntlet and plans to introduce legislation to help small cities protect their LGBT residents from housing and employment discrimination over the next three weeks.
The LGBT community is not a protected under Ohio law, but the bill would permit the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to investigate complaints.
Currently the civil-rights commission already has been doing something similar to what Stinziano is proposing but they have no power to do anything.
“Technically, they (Ohio Civil Rights Commission ) can review the cases,” said Bexley, Ohio Councilwoman Deneese Owen who is lead sponsor of ordinance to include LGBT as a protected class in housing and employment in her city. “But they get dropped for lack of jurisdiction if they don’t pertain to gender stereotyping (which the commission can handle).”
Gender stereotyping occurs when a woman is considered to be too manly or a man too feminine, said Keith McNeil, director of regional operations for the commission. In some cases, including two in Ohio involving transsexuals, federal courts have ruled that gender stereotyping is discrimination.
Currently less than a dozen Ohio cities provide protection for some in the LGBT community regarding housing and employment.
“It’s all in bits and pieces in this state,” said Back2Stonewall.com editor Will Kohler. Its very hard to get protections for our community passed in many cities in Ohio. Some try but the resolutions to protect members of the LGBT community are either killed in committee or gutted so in the end that they offer little or no real protections at all.”
Columbus is the only central Ohio city on the list with an ordinance listing all LGBT’s as a protected class
Owen said the state should adopt a uniform code that protects all groups so the protection doesn’t differ from city to city