Growing Support for Nondiscrimination on Display during Landmark Hearings in Ohio & New Hampshire

By Adam Polaski • February 1, 2018 • 10:24 am

Supporters of nondiscrimination turned out in large numbers yesterday in both Ohio and New Hampshire, where lawmakers are considering bills that would ensure LGBTQ people are fully protected from discrimination.

Nearly 100 Ohioans showed up to testify in support of the Fairness Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces. This is the first time the legislation has received a hearing in 9 years. And in New Hampshire, supporters of legislation that would update the state’s existing nondiscrimination law to fully protect transgender Granite Staters turned out in such large volumes that lawmakers simply ran out of time. That hearing is expected to resume in the coming days, so the committee can hear the testimony of those who were timed out yesterday.

Masen Davis, Freedom for All Americans’ CEO, said today:

“Every single day, LGBTQ people face discrimination that can upend their lives. The overwhelming support we are seeing in Ohio and New Hampshire is evidence that more and more Americans are beginning to understand the importance of passing nondiscrimination measures. The testimony supporters are sharing is one of the most effective ways we can convey to lawmakers the urgency of this issue. These committee hearings are important steps toward securing equal treatment for LGBTQ people, and we’re extremely encouraged by the support we’re seeing.”

The efforts to protect transgender people from discrimination in New Hampshire are a continuation of last year’s groundbreaking work, which culminated with a 15-2 bipartisan committee vote to advance the bill. Momentum is strong for the bill in the current legislative session: in addition to growing support among Republican elected officials, the bill also has support from businesses large and small, law enforcement, anti-violence advocates, and faith leaders from across the state. Earlier this week, Republican Governor Chris Sununu told the Union Leader that he was ready to “move forward” with the legislation. Freedom for All Americans is proud to be a founding partner in the Freedom New Hampshire campaign.

Rep. Brandon Phinney (L-Rochester) provided a statement from the House Libertarian Caucus before the Judiciary committee in New Hampshire, saying directly to his fellow Granite State legislators, “This bill affirms the rights of those in our communities who deserve to be protected. We are all human beings. We need pass to pass this bill now.”

In Ohio, lawmakers on the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee heard powerful testimony from a wide range of Fairness Act supporters, including LGBTQ people who have faced discrimination in employment and access to housing, and allies who are standing up to secure equal treatment under the law for their loved ones. Ohio State Representative Nickie Antonio has introduced the Fairness Act every legislative session for 11 years now, and Freedom for All Americans stands behind Equality Ohio and other state and local advocates working so hard to update the state’s nondiscrimination law.

Momentum for LGBTQ nondiscrimination is bubbling up in other states as well. Just last week, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate advanced two bills that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in public employment and housing. To see all of the bills currently in play in state legislatures across the country, visit FFAA’s 2018 Legislative Tracker.

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