2019 is starting off strong for LGBTQ people in several states where new governors have taken office this month following the midterm elections in November. So far, four of these new governors have signed new orders prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In Ohio, a state that has long lacked permanent protections for LGBTQ employees, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed an executive order on his first day in office that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ state workers. In a statement, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, Alana Jochum said, “Governor DeWine made a strong statement on his first day that he will be a Governor for all Ohioans. Ohio is still playing catch-up when it comes to welcoming LGBTQ people—and we are grateful that Governor DeWine, like Governor Kasich before him, recognizes the need for these common-sense protections in Ohio.”
In Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed a similar executive order. Under the order, Wisconsin state agencies will have to implement new policies designed to protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In Michigan, new Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an order banning LGBTQ discrimination by state services or state contractors. Whitmer said in a statement, “If we’re going to attract the talented workforce our businesses need to create jobs and grow our economy, then we’ve got to get on the right side of history.”
Democratic Kansas governor Laura Kelly also signed an order to protect LGBTQ state employees and contractors in the state, as well as prohibit discrimination in receiving state services. While Kansas used to have these protections in place, they were rescinded by Sam Brownback, the previous governor. “Governor Kelly’s order is the right thing to do for Kansas, and a step toward ensuring our state is well-positioned to attract and maintain businesses that strengthen our economy, our communities and our families,” another previous Kansas governor, Kathleen Sebelius, told NBC News.
New Jersey will enshrine the rights of trans people in the state with two new laws set to go into effect this year, one of which makes it easier to change the gender marker on a birth certificate, and one of which affirms a person’s right to have their correct gender identity marker on their death certificate. And of course, New York also became the fifteenth state to ban conversion therapy on minors with the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).