House Democrats are calling on the Speaker to add protections for LGBTQ members and staffers to the chamber’s employee handbook. A recent draft of the guidelines left sexual orientation and gender identity off the list of protected traits.
As a state, Ohio does not have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in employment, housing or public accomodations. Ohio is one of 28 states without such protections.
Democratic lawmakers want to change that with the "Ohio Fairness Act," but in the meantime cities and employers have begun offering such protections on their own.
House Minority leader Emilia Sykes says the Ohio Senate has already done so, and House Speaker Larry Householder should follow suit.
"You all often hear me joke about the Senate and how they are the inferior chamber," Sykes says. "But in this instance, they are certainly superior to us in ensuring that their employees have a secure work environment."
Sykes also notes the governor signed an executive order granting those protections to employees at state agencies.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein says adding the protections is important for the city at large. Columbus has already banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
"That is not only just the right thing to do in protecting all residents in a form of representative government where we stand up for everyone and we fight for everyone's equal rights, but it's also, as we've seen across the country, it's an important aspect for growth and economic development for our community," Klein says.
Householder has not responded to a request for comment.