Governor's Anti-Discrimination Protections Should Not Be Weakened, Says ACLU

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
January 24, 2011 12:00 am

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Executive Order Drops Gender Identity

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COLUMBUS – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio urged Governor John Kasich to reconsider his decision to eliminate gender identity and expression from an executive order prohibiting discrimination against state employees. The executive order was issued on January 21, and includes groups already protected under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Under previous Governor Ted Strickland, the executive order covered sexual orientation and gender identity. Governor Kasich’s order only includes sexual orientation.

“As a member of the business community, Governor Kasich should understand that the threat of discrimination is toxic to any workplace. It becomes more difficult to retain and recruit the best talent when they may fear reprisal simply because of who they are,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link.

“Transgendered people are perhaps one of the most vulnerable groups of Ohioans because fear and stigma continue to follow the community,” added Link. “Those who were already employed by the state and were open about their lives are now in the unenviable position of being fired or demoted because they are no longer protected. This is unfair and unacceptable for our public servants.”

The executive order prohibits discrimination against only those employed by the state. Currently, Ohio does not protect private-sector employees from bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity — meaning employees can be fired, demoted, or unduly passed over for a promotion and have no recourse.

Link concluded, “Governor Kasich correctly recognized it was important to safeguard state employees on a wide range of factors, including sexual orientation. He should seek to provide the broadest protection possible, and not exclude a group in desperate need of acceptance and equality.”

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