Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) has finally issued an executive order barring discrimination in state-based employment, after allowing his predecessor’s EO to briefly expire. Like former Gov. Ted Strickland’s EO, the measure prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin (ancestry), military status (past, present or future), disability, age or sexual orientation, but does not include protections for gender identity — which Kasich specifically promised to extend during the gubernatorial campaign. (The measure does add a new category for genetic information.):
Kasich had said in response to a Dispatch questionnaire that he would continue Strickland’s 2007 order, and the question specifically mentioned gender identity.
Asked why Kasich decided to omit it, spokesman Scott Milburn replied: “The governor is opposed to discrimination in state employment and has made that clear in this executive order in the way that he feels is most appropriate.”
As Autumn Sandeen of Palm’s House Blend notes, “So apparently it’s now ‘appropriate’ to discriminate against those state employees in Ohio who were who were once protected by the gender identity provision of the previous governor’s antidiscrimination order.” “Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but feel that Republican Governor John Kasich threw a bone to social/religious right conservatives — he singled out a very small minority population that were once protected by the state’s antidiscrimination policy, and has now has left them vulnerable. The chances of a large and effective enough protest against the change of policy means he gives his socially conservative base something to be pleased about that won’t be effectively countered by a broad coalition of people on the left. ”
The Ohio House passed a measure prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in, but the legislation never came up for a vote in the Senate. The state does not offer non-discrimination protection for LGBT employees.