Gov. Ted Strickland, with a stroke of a pen, restored the ban on discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. His predecessor, the highly ethical Bob Taft, removed those protections in 1999.

“The governor made the determination that this is necessary to ensure state employees are judged on work performance and not discriminated against for any reason in state offices,” said Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey.

Gov. Richard Celeste, a Democrat, first issued an order including the category of sexual orientation from a policy banning employment bias in Ohio government. It was kept on the books unchanged by Republican Gov. George Voinovich.

Under Taft, the order cited categories protected by state or federal law, including military veteran status, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry and sex.

It’s a ray of sunshine in Ohio, a state with a dismal constitutional amendment on the books that has wreaked havoc on the legal rights of both gay and (straight unmarried couples).

Equality Ohio:

Just a few moments ago, he signed the first pro-equality law for our state in 16 years. He issued an Executive Order protecting over 60,000 state employees from job discrimination based on sexual orientation AND gender identity or expression. That’s right, our transgender community members are protected, too.

Now, we need to make sure the Governor knows he made the right decision and that we are 100% behind him. Why? Because we expect some will try and make this decision controversial, despite the facts:

* 66% of Ohioans polled believe he’s right
* 88% of Fortune 500 companies believe he’s right 
* It’s already policy for many major Ohio companies
* It’s already policy for many Ohio cities.

There is a form to send a thank you to Strickland.

After the flip, take a look at reactions from readers to the executive order.From

To all the folks out there who lip sync the tired argument that being gay or transgendered is a choice, I offer the following challenge. If you, who are obviously straight, can turn your self gay for a month, I mean really and truly gay or maybe even transgendered, for only ONE month, and then, through the capricious power of choice, suddenly be straight again, I will rescind my belief that gayness is not a choice, but a fundamental part of the psyche. I have proposed this offer before and it;s interesting that all those proponents of the “choice” theory 1.identify as straight, and 2. have no conscious awareness of choosing straightness. They say ” I choose not to be gay”, and I respond with “But you could choose to be gay, right? SO prove your point and CHOOSE it….or shut up.” At which point there’s only silence.
–Greg, Northside, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 11:29:00 AM

What’s next? Let’s protect people with a taste for small children. I mean they can’t help it, they were born that way. Throwing that aside. It’s not about your lifestyle. I could care less. It’s about common sense. Every new law we make is less and less freedom. By the time we realize what has happened it will be too late to reverse it. We will be arrested for calling a guy an idiot. Can’t you idiots see that? As the late great Jerry said “Take care of yourself, and each other”
–Rich, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 11:09:00 AM

I think this is great! I am originally from Cincinnati and I feel that the closed minded people who are fighting this should be denied jobs for being stupid. I don’t care what a person does in their personal time, as long as they are a productive part of society, which this executive order is going to ensure the opportunity of. By the way, if this law was on the books prior to now, why would Strickland be going through this exercise. Face it, you are scare of a change that could make you have to work hard for a change. If you feel that taking discrimination out of the picture is a waste of time are you also going to go as far as saying the Civil Rights act, the foundation of anything anti-discriminate, was a waste of time? And for all of you playing the moral card why don’t you worry about yourself instead of forcing your views on others.
–Michael, Indianapolis, IN, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 11:02:00 AM

believe it or not, a person can be fired or not hired at all simply for being gay. you can also be fired for being a smoker or having a political bumper sticker on your car that your boss does not like. this order only affects state jobs.
–Chris, columbus, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:57:00 AM

Finally… We don’t allow discrimination based on gender, race or religion, why would we allow discrimination based on a similar immutable characteristic like sexual orientation. Equal protection is not pandering and homosexuality isn’t a “left-wing” conspiracy. It’s a shame that there are so many backward people in this state who just because they disagree or don’t understand something, use it as an excuse to discriminate or condemn others.
–Emily, Eastgate, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:56:00 AM

This is not about law but politics. There is no need to add this or anything else to the law; uphold the law as it is written, and if someone doesn’t, then serve justice. What would happen if someone protected on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity discriminated against me? Would it me overlooked? Double standard
–Dennis James, North College Hill, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:53:00 AM

Imagine that. A democrat pandering to the far left gay extremists. I’m shocked.
–Percy, Kenwood, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:48:00 AM

Discrimination is discrimination. Everyone should be protected and these laws shouldn’t be needed for anyone. But they sadly are. I am a military veteran and very proud of it. I am glad that is a protected status as well as religion, but if you mention not protecting those who choose a LIFESTYLE, why are these categories included? I chose to enter the military and serve my country. I also chose the religion I practice. No one comments on the insertion of these categories in the law. Are these not choices and should be protected as well. Don’t get me wrong. I am a very proud gay man. I did not choose to be gay anymore than you chose to be straight. I am a tax payer just as you are and should be protected in my job as much as you are. I am lucky to work for a company that does protect all of its employees in its discrimination policy. Admittedly, again I am lucky Ohio Citizen.
–Sam, Cincinnati/Summerside, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:48:00 AM

Sexual orientation should not be a protective class. If a person chooses to live an unusual lifestyle so be it, why do they need protection? It’s like they are trying to piggy back off the civil rights movement where people were killed because of their skin color. A person of color doesn’t have the choice not to be black, but people have the choice to change their sexual orientation if they so choose.
–Dana Taylor, Forest Park, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 10:00:00 AM

For those of you who voted this idiot into office – you get what you deserve. I’m thinking about moving to NKy. Ohio has become a high tax anti business northern east coast type state that is headed downhill. The new state potentate has accelerated this process. Viva Kentucky!!
–T Ross, East Side, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 9:57:00 AM

By reinstating these important protections Gov. Strickland is making an ethical, just and potentially politically damaging act for the sake of many of this states residents. He, unlike his predecessor, is showing real leadership and responsibility on a difficult in issue during a time in our state when such a gesture will likely go unappreciated or engender outright hostility from many. Today I can say that I am very pleased with Gov. Strickland.
–Jon Paasch, Pleasant Ridge, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 9:56:00 AM

Finally an elected offical moving the state of Ohio into present day and forward instead of taking away rights and moving the state backwards form the rest of the country. Hopefully this is only the beginning of Ohio to catch up with the rest of us..U.S. You sure wouldn’t have seen this with Blackwell!!
–Danny S., Chicago, Il. formally of Cincinnati, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 9:43:00 AM

This is ridiculous! First of all, you should not discuss your sexual preference in the work place. Secondly, there is plenty of diversity in the Hamilton County work place. But … one thing is for sure, I did not vote for Strickland and we need to get him out of the Governor’s office in 4 years. He does not represent the conservative views at all.
–Life-time Ohio Citizen, Western Hills, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 9:40:00 AM

This is the best thing that has happened for Ohio in a long time! Thank you, Gov. Strickland for helping our state to overcome one of its barriers to equality and fairness.
–Dori, Mt. Washington, Thursday, May 17, 2007 – 9:36:00 AM

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding