Monday, May 11, 2009

Equal Housing and Employment Act -- Intro'd TOMORROW

I had heard a few rumors about this, and I got confirmation from Equality Ohio today that the Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA) will be introduced in the state House tomorrow.

Is this the year it will finally pass?

This is the fourth introduction of the bill, having failed to garner any traction in 2003, 2005, or 2007. However, each year, progressively more co-sponsors were added, from a measly 4 in 2003 to a whopping 26 co-sponsors this time around (the Ohio House is 100 people; you can do the math). Representatives Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) and Ross Stewart (R-Springfield) are the main sponsors, with the following individuals co-sponsoring:
Terry Blair (R-38)
Barbara Boyd (D-9)
Edna Brown (D-48)
John Patrick Carney (D-22)
Ted Celeste (D-24)
Kathleen Chandler (D-68)
Mike Foley (D-14)
Nancy Garland (D-20)
Robert F. Hagan (D-60)
Marian Harris (D-19)
Sandra Stabile Harwood (D-65)
Tracy Maxwell Heard (D-26)
Joseph Koziura (D-56)
Tom Letson (D-64)
Clayton R. Luckie (D-39)
Dale Mallory (D-32)
Michael Skindell (D-13)
Vernon Sykes (D-44)
Peter S. Ujvagi (D-47)
Brian G. Williams (D-41)
Sandra Williams (D-11)
Roland Winburn (D-40)
Tyrone Yates (D-33)
Kenny Yuko (D-7)

Do you not see your Representative on there? Or, do you see them and want to thank them for supporting the EHEA? Here's a comprehensive list of the House, or you can search by ZIP code, or by County. Best I can tell, the only two Cincinnati locals co-sponsoring are Mallory and Yates, and the bulk of the sponsorship comes from Franklin (6 co-sponsors) and Cuyahoga (5 co-sponsors) Counties, with two more coming from Montgomery County (Luckie and Winburn). Do What's Right, Ohio also has a great list of supporting organizations and businesses.

What, then, does the EHEA do?

  1. Inserts "sexual orientation and gender identity and expression" into current statues; it also separately defines the two, thus not "hiding" gender identity and expression under sexual orientation.

  2. Exempts businesses with fewer than 15 employees from requisite protections.

  3. Includes a religious exemption that reads:

    (1) Nothing in this section shall prohibit any religious association, corporation, or society that is not organized for private profit, or any institution organized for educational purposes that is operated, supervised or controlled by such a religious association, corporation or society, from doing either of the following:
    (a) Limiting admission to or giving preference to persons of the same religion or denomination;
    (b) In matters related to sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, taking any action with respect to
    education, employment, housing and real property, or use of facilities.
    (2) Division (1) of this section SHALL NOT APPLY to secular business activities in which the religious association, corporation, or society engages if the conduct of those activities is unrelated to the religious and educational purposes for which the association, corporation, or society is organized.

That is all adapted (and, in some places, stolen :-)) from an email I got this afternoon.

Equality Ohio is hosting a lobby day this Wednesday for LGBT constituents. I can't go :-( (though I thought I was going to be able to and live-blog the event -- grr, school), but I strongly encourage you to.

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