The village of Gambier in Knox County became the most recent Ohio muncipality to include LGBTQ people in anti-discrimination law.
The village council held the unanimous the vote by Zoom earlier this month, the first in Ohio to pass such an ordinance via video conferencing according to a post from Equality Ohio.
Around 30 municipalities and localities have protections preventing discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing and employment. Gambier is the first in Knox County.
Timothy Bussey advocated for the law and testified at the Zoom meeting. Bussey, who works at Kenyon College but lives in Licking County, said that even though he works in Gambier, he opted to live in Newark because of their non-discrimination ordinance.
“I commute 40-ish minutes each way every day of the week, and a lot of times on weekends,” says Bussey. “Because, I need to make sure that I have a place where i can't be denied housing just because of my sexuality.”
Unlike discrimination based on race or sex, discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity isn't prohibited under Ohio or federal law.
“People were worried about losing potential housing, losing you know sort of rental protections, employment things like that,” says Gambier Mayor Leeman Kessler. “You know, the college has done a great job about making protections, providing benefits for spouses. But we are here in rural Ohio, and I think there are concerns people have concerns, whether genuine or not, about how welcoming and protected they can be.”
Kessler and the council worked with Bussey and Equality Ohio to craft the legislation to keep it consistent with other localities.
The Ohio Fairness Act is a statewide bill to provide those protections but it's still in the legislature.