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New Push for Equality

COLUMBUS (Ben Garbarek) – There’s a big push for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Ohio.

The so-called “equality bill” has been tried before.  It’s failed each of the last six years, but supporters say there’s new momentum to get it done this year.

Right now Ohio is one of more than 20 states where it’s legal to fire someone simply for being gay.

Douglas Robinson worked at a firm in Zanesville until his boss asked about his weekend.

“I said I hung out with my boyfriend,” Robinson said.  “(My boss) said, ‘oh you’re gay?’ I said yes.  She said, ‘you’re fired’.”

State Representative Nickie Antonio is one of the sponsors of the bill.  She’s also the first openly gay representative in Ohio.

“For a lot of LGBT folks, they know when they go out the door to go to work their job may be in jeopardy only, solely based on who they are and who they love, “she said.

Many credit Carla Hale for some of the newfound awareness.  The former gym teacher at Bishop Watterson High School was fired recently for being gay.  Her firing has caused outrage all over the country.

Supporters also say this comes down to economics.

“We’re hearing from Fortune 500 companies who would like to bring their business to Ohio that they will not even thing about coming here,” Antonio said.  “(They won’t come here) if we are still discriminating against their employees.

So far 45 House representatives are signed on as well as every Democratic senator.

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