New legislation seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

In front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, The Ohio Chamber of Commerce provided proponent testimony on Senate Bill 11 (SB 11). The legislation, which is titled the Ohio Fairness Act, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Ohio Chamber testified as a proponent of this legislation because we believe it ensures that all Ohioans can benefit from Ohio’s growing workforce, enhances mutual respect between employers and employees and further shows that Ohio is a hospitable and welcoming place to live, work and start a business. Additionally, SB 11 aligns with the Ohio Chamber’s mission of championing economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans by making our state a more desirable landing spot for businesses and special events that value diversity.

Under SB 11, no one would be able to discriminate against an individual at the workplace, in housing or public accommodation due to that individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These protections are important for businesses in the state because it helps Ohio companies recruit and retain talented individuals from every walk of life. In fact, a recent US Chamber of Commerce study found that 72 percent of full-time employees would leave an organization for another that they felt was more inclusive.

The legislation would also prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity in public contracts and ease compliance burdens for employers by preempting a patchwork of varying local ordinances that ban discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity in favor of a single statewide standard. The Ohio Chamber will continue to monitor and advocate for the legislation during the committee process and as it makes its way through the entire legislative process because we believe SB 11 is one more tool that will make Ohio’s businesses better.