It's a big day in Ohio today because for the first time ever, pro-equality legislation will be voted upon by the state legislature. The Ohio House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Equal Housing and Employment Act, which will ban discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The outlook is good, reports the Dayton Daily News.
HB 176 has bipartisan support and is expected to win approval in the House, controlled by Democrats. "I think it’s very important that we have fairness in employment," House Speaker Armond Budish said last week. "I think it sends a message that Ohio is welcoming to all."
The chance of passage is considered less likely in the Republican-controlled Senate. Senate President Bill Harris said he questions whether the bill is needed. If the House passes it and sends it to the Senate, it will be assigned to a committee, he said. "We’ll see what the committee decides," said Harris.
Ohio would become the 13th state to prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Twenty-one states protect against sexual orientation discrimination only.
Democrats' ascendancy into control of the chamber in 2008, for the first time in 14 years, has been a driving force behind the bill's latest momentum. The statewide climate for pro-equality politicians has also changed, notes Joe Sudbay at Gay AMERICAblog: "It was just five years ago, that the former Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, led the anti-gay forces in his state. It was ugly. Now, Senator Sherrod Brown, who was elected in 2006, supports marriage equality. And, both top candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat of retiring George Voinovich, the current Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and the current Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, are pro-marriage equality."