Thursday, September 17, 2009

A PFLAGer's Perspective on the Passage of the OH Anti-Discrimination Law

Yesterday we blogged about the passage of HB 176, the Equal Housing and Employment Act, in the Ohio House of Representatives.

PFLAG's own Dan Tepfer, state coordinator for Ohio, was there, along with his wife, Nancy. Below is their story, as recounted in this article from the Dayton Daily News.

Daniel and Nancy Tepfer of Beavercreek always strove to treat their three children equally.

That includes a daughter who is gay. But while she gets equal treatment at home, they fear she won’t get it elsewhere in Ohio.

That’s why they came to the Ohio House on Tuesday, Sept. 15, to cheer the historic passage of legislation banning discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identify.

“I’m thrilled,” Mrs. Tepfer, 65, said after the vote. “We’re going to celebrate for a minute.”

Then she pledged they would get to work trying to win passage in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The 56-39 vote in the Democratic-controlled House followed more than an hour of heated and sometimes high-minded debate in which Rep. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, cited the Declaration of Independence’s guarantee of “unalienable rights” as the reason for her support.

Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, a joint sponsor of the bill, was more practical. He said he is a business person and that Ohio’s in economic trouble. The state shouldn’t signal to any workers that they’re not wanted, he said.

“We need jobs. We need people that want to come to Ohio, who want to stay here and work,” said McGregor.

Opponents warned that the law would increase lawsuits, a charge that supporters denied.

For others, the argument against the bill went beyond jobs and housing.

“It’s not really about people being denied rights to basic needs,” said Rep. Jeff Wagner, R-Sycamore. “It’s about forcing acceptance of a lifestyle that many people disagree with.”

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