On Monday, the Ohio town of Gambier passed the Ohio Fairness Act via Zoom. Gambier is the 29th municipality in Ohio to pass the act, but it’s the first to do so virtually.
The Ohio Fairness Act adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. It consists of multiple bills that are pending in the state legislature, which would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in housing, employment, or public accommodations.
While the act is currently stalled in the legislature, many municipalities are taking it upon themselves to pass their own versions of the act. Gambier is the latest. The Gambier Village Council held their monthly meeting on Zoom, with only three council members — including Mayor Leeman Kessler — attending in-person at the village community center.
“The world seems to be on hold, but many people can’t wait to be afforded basic legal protections everyone else has,” Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, said. “Generally, LGBTQ people in Ohio are not covered in the laws that make discrimination illegal. We are all making hard decisions right now. Whether or not you can be out and open at work should not be one of them. We applaud Gambier for protecting its residents and advocating for all LGBTQ Ohioans.”
Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ advocates continue to fight for the Ohio Fairness Act to pass statewide.
“This bill has support from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and hundreds of other businesses in our state,” said lesbian Sen. Nickie J. Antonio in a statement last year. Antonio introduced the Senate version of the bill, alongside Sen. Michael Rulli.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle are working to pass this bill. Conservative Republican Rep. Brett Hillyer said in a statement, “As a conservative, it’s my belief that you should be able to work and be yourself, and so long as you can show up and do your job and do what your employer asks of you, then you should have protections under the law.”