Read the full release (and see what you can do to help!) below:
Ohio’s new House Speaker has been in office for 20 days and his House of Representatives has already heard two anti-LGBTQ bills.
The latest—on the anniversary of the Obergefell decision at the Supreme Court, which brought marriage equality to Ohio and the country—is HB36. It is being heard, and likely voted on, today by the Ohio House Community & Family Advancement Committee at 4 p.m.
Advocates say if the bill merely affirmed the right of clergy to marry or not marry whom they please, than they would not have an issue with the bill—other than it’s unnecessary and a waste of time, since clergy already have that constitutionally protected right.
But it goes further, they say.
“The problem with the bill is not that clergy can choose not to marry someone if it goes against their faith. They currently have—and should have—that right. It is that the bill goes further, and allows for undefined ‘religious societies’ to discriminate against couples seeking to marry with regard to public accommodations. This means that couples of all sorts—including interfaith couples and interracial couples, who are currently protected under state law—could experience discrimination in accessing a Knights of Columbus hall for a wedding reception, for example,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director, Equality Ohio. “Property and services rented to the public at large must be available to all, regardless of race, sex, religion and other protected characteristics.”
Ohio does not have a statewide law that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination. Twenty cities in Ohio do, but that only covers about 20% of Ohioans.
Columbus is on the shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2. Whether an LGBTQ-inclusive environment is a factor in Amazon’s choice has been the chatter of those speculating what city Amazon will choose. The House elevating two anti-LGBTQ bills within the past two weeks may not help with Columbus’ Amazon bid.
Equality Ohio is asking people to call House Speaker Ryan Smith at 614.466.1366 and Speaker Pro Tempore Kirk Schuring 614.752.2438 to express their opposition to HB36.