BY DANIEL TIRABASSI
At about 5 p.m. on December 19, Governor John Kasich added gender identity and expression to non-discrimination protections for Ohio state employees.
This is a bold move for the Republican governor, who only has 25 days left in office. There are many possible reasons for such a move such. However, none of these have been made clear. In fact, this development comes as a surprise to many LGBTQ people in the state.
This provision was placed into effect in 2007, when Ted Strickland was governor. The protection was repealed by Governor Kasich in 2011. There has been little to no publicity around the new instatement of the ordinance, taking many state advocates aback by the news of its installation.
However, these protections are not set in stone. Governor-elect Mike DeWine now has a decision to make when he gets into office — less than a month away. DeWine can choose to let the protections stay the way Kasich has them. This would be a surprising move for the Governor-elect, since he ran on a very conservative platform. He notably sat in on the repeal of transgender protections put into place by President Obama. DeWine’s other choice is to repeal these protections again.
Either way, these protections show an important move forward for the state. With legislation concerning gender changes on birth certificates sitting in the capital, a show of public support for a move such as this has the ability to sway the State House to adapt the proposed legislation. This move could also mobilize more communities to adapt non-discrimination ordinances for residents when it comes to gender identity and expression.
Now is the time to push for these changes in your local area. If you want to see these ordinances in your neighborhood, attend city council meetings and propose them to your member. Collect and file petitions to get them put onto the agenda. Use this ordinance as a stepping stone to build a stronger base for the LGBTQ+ people in your community.
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