Dear The GLBT Center Cincinnati,
Yesterday, hundreds of fair-minded Ohioans were in Columbus for the sixth annual Lobby Day for Equality. More than 200 citizen lobbyists met with 122 legislators (out of 132 -- only 10 were unwilling to hear from us). All 33 Senate districts were lobbied, and 31 of those districts were lobbied by constituents who live in the district. 155 additional people lobbied from home, sending 318 messages to 89 legislators. More than 100 people attended the closing reception, including dozens of legislators and legislative aides from both parties.
At the reception, Executive Director Ed Mullen delivered a speech about the pro-equality movement in Ohio and how we can make Ohio a home for everyone:
“We stand tonight in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium. This is supposed to be the peoples’ house. It is supposed to be, but today, in 2011, it is not yet the house for all people in Ohio.
In 2004, our representatives in this house voted to pass a “Defense of Marriage Act”. Seventy-three representatives and eighteen senators voted for this Defense of Marriage Act, which said that Ohio will only recognize a marriage between one man and one woman and that it is against the strong public policy of the state of Ohio to recognize marriage between two people of the same sex.
We were told by our representatives in this house that our love, our relationships, and our families are not worthy of recognition under the law. That the love of people like Ron and Bill who are here tonight and have been together in a loving and committed relationship for 7 years -- they even got married at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Broad Street here in Columbus -- is somehow not as valid as the love between Britney Spears and Jason Alexander, her husband of 24 hours, or the love between Newt Gingrich and any of his three wives. Not only can’t we get married in Ohio, but Ohio also will not recognize same sex marriages performed legally in other states and will not extend any of the benefits of marriage to same sex couples in Ohio." Read more
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown followed with a stirring speech about the power of one person to make a difference.
During the day, the citizen lobbyists met with their legislators to urge them to pass the Equal Housing and Employment Act and a Comprehensive Safe Schools Act. The Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA) was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives in 2009 but was ignored by the Ohio Senate. As a result we have to begin again. Yesterday's efforts by citizens was the first step towards a new beginning for the EHEA.
Participants ended the day with many stories about interesting conversations during the day. This was our first opportunity to talk with most of the new legislators who needed to hear our stories about non-discrimination as well safe schools. Support from those who voted yes on EHEA in 2009 as well as those who pledged to vote yes in the Senate remains strong, and we had conversations with many about reconsidering their no vote in the future.
Legislators heard from citizens about the need for improved anti-bullying and harassment policies in our schools to provide a safe school environment for all Ohio's children.
Three safe schools bills are currently being considered in the House Education Committee. Watch for opportunities to encourage legislators to support passage of HB 116, HB 155 (and its companion SB 127) and HB 208.
Thank you to all who attended a Lobby Day or lobbied from home. It is because of the work you do that support for pro-equality legislation continues to grow. Save the date now for next year's Lobby Day, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. As soon as we hear more information about the introduction of a new EHEA, we will get that information to you.
Special thanks to our Community Hosts, Sponsors, & Partners:
Tom Grote and Rick Neal
Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter
Chester Willcox & Saxbe
Frost Brown Todd LLC
Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio
Ron Templin and Bill LaFayette
AIDS Resource Center Ohio
Artz Dewhirst & Wheeler
Jim Elliott and John Behal
Melanie Falls and Tina Posey
Ed and Audrey Kancler
LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland
MJ Hudson - Bailey Cavalieri
Ohio Advocates for Youth
R.L. and Barbara B. Richards
Rev. Dr. Michael Castle and Daniel Carl
Marianne Steger and Lisa Zellner
ACLU of Ohio
Cross Creek Community Church, United Church of Christ
David and Mark Cunningham
Timothy J. Downing
Summit County Councilperson Sandra Kurt
Plymale & Dingus
The Seidewitz Group
Equality Ohio | 57 Jefferson Ave | Columbus, OH 43215 | 614.224.0400