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Ohio Has 'A Lot Of Work To Do' To Protect LGBTQ Residents, Legislator Says

State Sen. Nicki Antonio (D-Lakewood)
Ohio House

While state Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) says Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision is significant, more needs to be done to protect Ohio's LGBTQ residents.

“We can celebrate today,” Antonio said, “but we have a lot of work to do before the citizens of Ohio and this country that are in the LGBTQ community feel that they are fully citizens.”

That work includes passage of the "Ohio Fairness Act," Antonio said, which would amend state laws to provide more protections for LGBTQ people with housing, employment and in the public sphere. The Senate version of the bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee last year.

Even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workplaces cannot fire LGBTQ employees based on sexual orientation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Antonio says recent changes made by the Trump Administration have an adverse effect on members of the community.

“We have moments in time,” Antonio said. “Last week, the administration took away the ability of people from the LGBT community to fully be protected while accessing health care.”

The Supreme Court ruling came as a surprise because of the court’s largely conservative makeup, Antonio said.

“Significant and wonderful, but not the full-on solution to full LGBTQ equality,” she said.

On Monday, Cleveland City Council released a statement saying that discrimination based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation and presentation “has no place in the U.S. or in Cleveland, Ohio."

“The Supreme Court’s decision is an affirmation of what America stands for, equal justice and equal opportunity for all,” Council president Kevin Kelley said.

County Executive Armond Budish called the high court’s decision “truly a cause for celebration” in his own statement.

“As we confront discrimination in all areas of our society, this ruling helps clear the way for gay and transgender workers to feel more secure, knowing that they have legal protections from being harassed or fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation,” Budish said.