United Church Homes has joined Ohio Business Competes and the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, a coalition of employers and religious organizations statewide that want to end discrimination against the LGBT community and support nondiscrimination legislation.
UCH is one of more than 60 companies to make a commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign and several dozen religious organizations to support the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, according to Equality Ohio.
“United Church Homes is an organization that values, respects and is inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, sexual identity or sexual orientation,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “Too often, LGBT employees face discrimination in the workplace and are fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. United Church Homes stands with the LGBT community, businesses, organizations and all of those who support equality for everyone.”
Ohio is one of 28 states where members of the LGBT community can be fired or denied housing based on their sexual orientation or identity.
Rep. Nickie Antonio, Ohio’s first openly gay legislator, in March reintroduced a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing or public accommodations.
“UCH is standing up for its thousands of residents and every LGBTQ person in Ohio. We are proud to have UCH as part of our coalition –– which is growing everyday. Together, we can make Ohio a state that is welcoming to everyone,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Oho, the organization behind Ohio Business Competes.
UCH is a national nonprofit, faith-based senior living provider with more than 1,500 dedicated staff serving 4,500 residents of all faiths in 69 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations.
In May 2012, United Church Homes declared the organization Open and Affirming (ONA) to the LGBT community and has made advocacy for LGBT seniors a priority.
Open and Affirming is an official designation of congregations, campus ministries, and other organizations affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) that make a public covenant of welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, the new executive director of the United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, said the ONA designation makes UCH different from other church-affiliated organizations.
She also said it’s important to allow employees to be who they are.
“It’s as much about our residents as it is about our employees,” Long-Higgins said.
United Church of Christ backs effort in Ohio to ban LGBTQ discrimination at work, housing or in public
The United Church of Christ, a progressive denomination of almost 1 million members headquartered in Cleveland, is joining Ohio corporations and businesses in a coalition working to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Ohio. The church’s commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign — as its only faith-based organization — comes as Ohio cities are passing their own non-discrimination measures and the State legislature is being asked to reconsider passing a bill to ban bias in Ohio.
Rep. Nickie Antonio from Lakewood, Ohio, the first openly-gay state politician, reintroduced a bill on March 23 that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, in housing or in public accommodations. For years, Ohio Republicans have declined to address legislation to protect LGBTQ people from this type of discrimination.
Eight out of 10 Ohioans believe firing someone over their sexual orientation is illegal. Right now, it’s not. The UCC is one of four dozen Ohio organizations looking to change that.
“The United Church of Christ takes seriously the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. We envision a just world for all. We cannot take that deep religious commitment seriously while ignoring the shameful discrimination experienced by our LGBT family, especially when that discrimination is authored by the state and enforced by law,” said the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, United Church of Christ general minister and president.
“We chose to move our headquarters to Cleveland. We are proud of our move here to Ohio, and feel that we owe it to our community to align with advocates for the rights of all this state’s citizens regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he continued.
“To be a part of a faith community is to have a spiritual home. For many LGBTQ people in Ohio, United Church of Christ is that home. This isn’t incidental; it’s because the very makeup of the church is welcoming to all,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, the organization behind the coalition. “That defines the UCC for me, and I am so very happy they support ending legal discrimination against LGBTQ people in Ohio.”
Jackie Borchardt from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, Democratic state legislators said Ohio needs to do more to ensure all in the state are treated fairly in the eyes of the law.
A trio of Democrat-sponsored anti-discrimination bills has not seen much action at the Republican-controlled Statehouse. Bill sponsors Reps. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, Denise Driehaus of Cincinnati and Debbie Phillips of Albany on Friday called on GOP leaders to schedule hearings on the bills when lawmakers return from summer break.
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Today Representative Bill Hayes introduced HB 537, which attempts to make discrimination in housing or employment on the basis of sexual orientation unlawful. However, the bill does nothing for the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ community, transgender Ohioans, and is silent on discrimination in public accommodations.
There is a clear problem in Ohio – it is generally legal to fire someone, kick someone out of rental housing, or deny service at a store or restaurant just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Unfortunately, this law does not address these important issues – not only does it leave transgender people out entirely, it fails to secure protections against discrimination in public accommodations.
Discrimination against transgender people has spurred travel boycotts from several Ohio cities and counties to North Carolina including Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Cuyahoga County and Summit County.
Protections against discrimination in public accommodations – like being refused entry or access to stores, restaurants, parks, hotels, doctor’s offices and banks – is a fundamental civil right that this bill does not address. In addition, the bill has broad religious exemptions.
“Equality Ohio will never support a bill that fails to include the transgender community,” said Alana Jochum, managing director of Equality Ohio. “We need to show that Ohio is truly welcoming to all LGBTQ Ohioans. The bill represents a complicated attempt to a solve a problem that could be resolved simply by adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression throughout Ohio’s existing nondiscrimination code. I look forward to working with Rep. Hayes and our legislators to work together for a law in Ohio that protects the entire LGBTQ community.”
“When we say that everyone deserves protection from discrimination, we mean everyone,” said Lisa Wurm, policy manager for the ACLU of Ohio. “We refuse to support legislation that carves out exceptions for people that are often the most vulnerable and stigmatized. We will not sacrifice the rights of transgender people in our work for full legal equality.”
“While we appreciate Representative Hayes’ desire to address discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Ohio, this attempt is simply a non-starter.
A bill that would truly address this issue would also include protections in public accommodations and would ensure that those most vulnerable to discrimination, transgender individuals, were included. We’d be happy to work with Representative Hayes to craft something that would more fully address the problem of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all places where people live, work and play.”- Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director.
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Today, Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced her intention to introduce legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing or public accommodations. Watch a video of the announcement here.
Alana Jochum, managing director of Equality Ohio said:
In most parts of Ohio, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people can be fired, evicted from their homes, or denied service at a business or public place just because they are LGBT.
Nobody should have to endure discrimination. The vast majority of Ohioans agree. Nearly 8 in 10 Ohioans support this. In fact, they’re shocked to learn that we don’t have a law like this protecting LGBT Ohioans in the first place.
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