Eric Resnick of Gay Peoples’ Chronicle is reporting that LGBT state employees in Ohio “are no longer protected from discrimination by sexual orientation or gender identity” because newly-minted Governor John Kasich (R-OH) “allowed his predecessor’s executive order barring such discrimination to expire”:
Neither Ohio nor federal law provides any protection from anyone being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
But an order signed four years ago by former governor Ted Strickland prohibited such discrimination against all 60,000 state employees in hiring, layoff, termination, transfer, promotion, demotion, rate of compensation and eligibility for training programs. It also gave state agencies and universities the rationale to expand and update their internal non-discrimination policies, including the ones covering interaction with the public as well as employees.
The day after Kasich’s inauguration, when he would have had to do something to keep Strickland’s order in effect, spokesperson Rob Nichols confirmed to the Gay People’s Chronicle that the order had expired.
Resnick’s sources hint that Kasich may still sign a new EO in the near future and gay activists I’ve spoken to seem to agree. Kim Welter of Equality Ohio told me that the state-wide LGBT rights group is “cautiously optimistic that this will be one of the EO that the Governor signs” and said that Kasich gave somewhat encouraging answers about LGBT issues during the campaign. Kasich told the Columbus Dispatch in October that while he opposes same-sex marriage, he “also opposes discrimination against gays” and mentioned his support for protecting LGBT people from discrimination in local interviews.
“We are pretty confident he will sign the executive order,” Welter reiterated and said she hopes the group can work with Kasich to pass the Ohio Equal Housing and Employment Act (OEHEA), which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. “The Ohio House approved the EHEA with bipartisan support in September 2009,” but it died in the Senate after Senate President Bill Harris refused to assign it to a committee.
Calls to Kasich’s office were not returned.