COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio House of Representatives is the only state entity that does not have anti-discrimination protections in place for LGBTQ staff members.
Each state agency has the protections, each statewide elected office holder’s office has them, the Ohio Senate on the other side of the Statehouse has them, even the governor’s office has protections in place.
One of the first things the governor did upon being sworn in earlier this year was to sign an executive order to extend protections for gender identity and gender expression to all state employees.
Speaker of the House Larry Householder claims he was unaware the House was the only entity not to have anti-discrimination policies in place for LGBTQ employees.
Minority Speaker of the House Emilia Sykes said Democrats complained about the lack of protections two-weeks before the administrative rules were released.
“We brought this issue up several weeks ago when we saw the first draft and we were told that the protections for the LGBTQ community would not be included in the House Administrative Rules because there was no protection under Ohio state law,” Sykes said.
Householder reiterated those reasons to reporters this week when he was questioned about the lack of protections.
”The House has long had a policy of looking at various amounts of classes that are recognized federally and by the state as being protected classes. LGBTQ currently is not one of those protected classes, so we continue to abide by and comply with federal and state law,” Householder said.
When asked if the LGBTQ community should have those protections he said that legislation to provide those protections had been introduced at the Statehouse in the past but failed to pass.
The bill has been introduced every General Assembly for the past decade, and every time it has failed to make it all the way through the legislative process.
With Republicans in complete control of the Statehouse during this time, the bill has rarely received more than a single hearing, allowing the sponsor to introduce the concepts to lawmakers.
This year, the bill’s sponsor introduced it in the Ohio Senate where it has had two hearings, both this spring.
There has been no further discussion of the bill in the form of a public hearing since.
In the meantime, LGBTQ staff members working at the Statehouse for the Ohio House of Representatives have no protections against discrimination. Sykes said that is incredibly disappointing.
”It’s a black eye for the State of Ohio and it sends the wrong message,” she said.