For the first time in Ohio, a TLBG rights bill left committee and will be voted on by the entire House of Representatives soon!
HB 176 is the Equal Housing and Employment Act, and passed out of the State Government Committee on May 17th.
With the passing of the bill, naturally the religious reicht have targeted Ohio lawmakers, pleading with them to keep their special rights in place. Here's an Action Alert I received from Equality Ohio:
Take Action: Ask Your Rep. to Vote Yes on HB 176
Earlier today the American Family Association (A.F.A.), one of the nation's largest anti-equality organizations, sent out an Action Alert to its membership asking them to contact Ohio's lawmakers to urge him/her to vote 'no' on HB 176.
Their talking points are just plain wrong – and we need your help now!
The A.F.A. claims that Ohio's H.B. 176 “threatens our most basic freedoms”.
Here are a few of the things that the A.F.A. claims would happen if HB 176 were to become law -
AFA Point #1: “It would become a criminal offense for Ohio business and property owners to make decisions based on their religious beliefs regarding homosexual behaviors.”
This is simply not true. Help us counter this misinformation now. This is no different from Ohio business and property owners making decisions based on any belief they may hold – anti-semitism, racism and other such beliefs. As a society we agree that we can not and should not control what someone believes, but we have agreed as a society that actions (hiring and firing decisions, for example) should be made so that all people have equal opportunity.
AFA Point #2: “The Ohio Civil Rights Commission would be authorized to work with the Department of Education to insure that all public school students in Ohio are taught that belief in the Biblical truth regarding homosexuality and other distorted sexual behaviors is equivalent to prejudice and thus inherently wrong. Students who have been taught by their parents that homosexual behaviors are contrary to their religious beliefs would have to remain silent or risk being punished, criticized and/or bullied. [Note: Sensitivity training of this nature does not recognize the critical difference between respect for all persons and affirmation of their beliefs and lifestyles.]”
This is simply not true. Help us counter this misinformation now. The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is already authorized to do this work with regard to the state's other protected classes. School Boards have the OPTION to implement this curriculum. An amendment was made in the State Government Committee to the language of this provision of Ohio Revised Code 4112 stating simply that the origins of prejudice would be the topic of this curriculum without naming any of the protected classes.
AFA Point #3: “Civil Rights laws in Ohio would be seriously weakened. Civil rights laws were enacted to provide needed protection for classes that truly have experienced unjust discrimination. In order to qualify as a protected class under civil rights law, our courts have consistently held that a class must meet three criteria. They (1) must exhibit an immutable, non-behavior-based characteristic such as race or skin color; (2) they must have experienced a history of discrimination resulting in class-wide economic deprivation; and (3) they must be politically powerless. The courts have insisted that all three criteria apply in order to prevent extension of these protections to special interest groups and to insure the effectiveness of such protections for the truly deserving. “Sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” the classes that H.B. 176 would add, do not meet any of these criteria and their inclusion would undermine and trivialize Ohio Civil Rights law.”
This is simply not true. Help us counter this misinformation now. Religious practice, marital status and military status are not immutable, non-behavior-based characteristics and yet they are protected classes. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people have experienced a history of discrimination. The teacher from London, Ohio fired from her job and the veterinary assistant from Beavercreek, Ohio fired from her job because of sexual orientation are just two examples of proof otherwise.
AFA Point #4: “Ohio state agencies, all local political subdivisions and any employer seeking to transact business with the state or its political subdivisions would be required to take affirmative action toward hiring persons in the new protected classes of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” – thereby discriminating against all persons who do not so identify themselves. This is blatant reverse discrimination!”
This is simply not true. Help us counter this misinformation now. The Ohio Revised Code 4112 has never had an affirmative action provision in its language. In addition, an amendment to HB 176 was passed specifically insuring that no quotas or affirmative action would be required by Ohio employers.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!
In order to continue our essential work to make sure that ALL Ohioans are protected in employment, housing, public accommodation and credit via the passage of HB 176, we need your help today!
Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Your Representative (if you live in Ohio)
Below is the sample letter:
Subject: Vote Yes on HB 176
Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
As your constituent, I am urging you to please vote YES on H.B. 176, the Equal Housing and Employment Act.
It is time that sexual orientation and gender identity were added as protected classes under our Ohio Civil Rights law.
No one should have to fear discrimination where they live, work or play because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight or transgender. Unfortunately, this is still an all too common occurence in our state. You have the power to change that with your vote.
I believe that it is good public policy for the state of Ohio to pass an anti-discrimination law addressing sexual orientation and gender identity. I hope you will agree with me and vote YES on H.B. 176.
Everyone should feel safe in the state we call home.