A new report from the Human Rights Campaign ranks Ohio among the worst states for LGBTQ equality.
“In these states, advocates focus on raising support for basic LGBTQ equality, such as non-discrimination laws,” the report explains. “These states are most likely to have religious refusal or other anti-LGBTQ laws.”
Critically, Ohio lacks state laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. An anti-discrimination bill proposed last year by state Rep. Nicki Antonio (D-Lakewood) failed to advance in the Republican-dominated legislature, despite support from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
The state also lacks laws protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, laws protecting health care benefits for transgender people, and laws allowing gender updates to birth certificates.
One area that HRC applauded was Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent executive order prohibiting housing, public accommodation and employment discrimination against LGBTQ state employees. The order was first signed by John Kasich soon before he left office.
“Today, by continuing these crucial non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ state employees, Governor DeWine did the right thing, and we hope his administration will push for the fair treatment of all LGBTQ Ohioans over the next four years,” said HRC Ohio state director Shawn Copeland in a statement.
Despite Ohio’s low ranking, many of its cities perform strongly in the HRC’s annual ranking of municipal equality. Last year, Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Cleveland all scored a perfect 100 for LGBTQ inclusion.
Other states in the lowest category are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
On the other side of the spectrum are states like California, New York and Massachusetts, which are “working toward innovative equality.”