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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 18, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 03
New governors order protections for LGBT employees
Section One
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New governors order protections for LGBT employees

Executive orders restore protections canceled by previous Republican governors

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Two newly inaugurated state governors - one Democrat and one Republican - signed executive orders January 14, protecting their LGBT state employees from discrimination. Two other Democratic governors moved to protect LGBT workers after their inaugurations the previous week.

Democrat Laura Kelly of Kansas and Republican Mike DeWine of Ohio signed the directives soon after being sworn into office. In both cases, the new executive orders restored protections put in place by prior Democratic governors and subsequently canceled by Republican administrations.

Kelly ordered Kansas state agencies on Tuesday to again prohibit on-the-job discrimination against LGBT state employees. The protections were eliminated by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2015. Brownback removed the protections the same year the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

The first openly Gay state representatives in Kansas history said they will introduce a bill to extend nondiscrimination protections to all LGBT people in the state. Kelly said she would sign such a bill.

The newly sworn-in Republican governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, signed an executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment on January 14.

Ohio is one of 31 states that lack a statewide law barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

DeWine's order also covers race, color, religion, gender, national origin, military status, disability, age, and genetic information, and explicitly covers nonbinary people.

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum said the state was still 'playing catch-up when it comes to welcoming LGBTQ people.'

'Gov. DeWine made a strong statement on his first day that he will be a governor for all Ohioans,' he said.

The HRC said DeWine 'did the right thing.'

'We hope his administration will push for the fair treatment of all LGBTQ Ohioans over the next four years,' the group said in a statement.

James Knapp of TransOhio urged the Ohio legislature to protect Transgender employees in the private sector through the Ohio Fairness Act.

Last week, state governors in Michigan and Wisconsin moved to protect LGBTI state employees. Both signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On the other hand, the new Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, excluded LGBTI people from his executive order on discrimination.

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