January 24, 2011 2:29 pm ET - by Alan Pyke
In August, the Columbus Dispatch published responses from the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial candidates to a wide-ranging issue survey. Question 11, on the policies pertaining to discrimination against LGBT state workers, was a two-parter:
11. Would you renew the 2007 executive order that no one can be fired from or denied a state job on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity? Do you support legislation passed by the Ohio House that would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation?
Fox-News-pundit-turned-Governor John Kasich (R) answered simply: "Yes." But if equality-minded Ohioans took that as an encouraging sign for a statewide anti-discrimination law, the news over the weekend suggests Kasich is not the staunch ally his answer indicated. The Dispatch reported Saturday that Governor Kasich has dropped "gender identity" from the list of protected classes in the state's employment policy.
Kasich said in his campaign that he would continue a 2007 order from former Gov. Ted Strickland that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but Kasich's order leaves out "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."
In other words, Kasich doesn't feel it's "appropriate" to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, so it's open season for firing transgender employees in Ohio state offices. Looks like "Yes" actually meant "yeah, mostly."
The other piece of the Dispatch's question — the law that would prohibit sexuality-based discrimination across the state — died quietly in the state Senate last summer, just months before Kasich's "support" for the bill was published in the campaign questionnaire. Surely the Governor could resuscitate it, if he meant what he said to LGBT voters and their allies.
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