Friday, May 31, 2013

What the Hell is Wrong with Kasich?

Most of  you Cyrsti's Condo readers know I'm from Ohio but probably fewer of you know the Governor is Republican John Kasich. The good news is at the start of his term in 2010, Gov. John Kasich renewed an executive order to protect gay state workers.  The bad news was he removed language about gender identity.

For the life of me, I can't understand why emotionally.  Why would Kasich on purpose exclude the transgender population of Ohio? At that point, I started to try to redirect my thinking to what politics is really about- behind the scenes power.

It's no real secret in Ohio and probably elsewhere opposition to equal transgender rights in any form comes from the social right which includes a huge entrenched religious base. So I tried to connect the dots between them and Kasich's desire to deny us with basic rights every American should be entitled to.

I don't know of course which group Kasich was catering to on this move. Perhaps it was a last ditch "line in the sand"   deal with right wing social and religious groups-to be compared with someone who will tolerate a transgender person in public until the person wants to use the bathroom. Or maybe some in the statehouse felt an approval by Kasich would set the stage for Ohio employees to fight for more transgender coverage in their insurance plans?

Like I said- no one called me from Columbus. Perhaps another idea could be  Kasich's "responsibility" to other Republicans in the Ohio legislature. What pressure came to bear from them?

On the positive side, the wind of change seems to be blowing in Columbus.  I recently read an article in the Columbus Dispatch detailing some of the changes:

"The 2010 election brought a wave of fresh Republicans to Columbus. And at the start of his term, Gov. John Kasich renewed an executive order to protect gay state workers but removed language about gender identity. “Largely, I think there’s a younger generation of Republicans that may be more open to this,” said Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Copley, who was elected in 2010 and is co-sponsoring the Senate bill.

 There’s also been growing support on the national level, including from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who made headlines in March when he announced his support for gay marriage. “I think more and more, it’s not a partisan issue,” said state Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, who is co-sponsoring the House bill with Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield. “We have fair-minded people on both sides of the aisle — I know we do.” Eighty of the top 98 employers listed on the JobsOhio website include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination policies."

So, here we go again:

"After years of trying to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers is mustering another attempt. The package is nearly identical to previous efforts and would add a number of anti-discrimination protections, including housing, wages, certain government contracts and mental-health services. A set of bills — one in the House and one in the Senate — are sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats."

My problem is I don't see "gender orientation" included here.  Plus this final excerpt may be the dot I was trying to connect- explaining in part why we were excluded:

"Small-business advocates are wary of possible side effects. Any time lawmakers expand the discrimination umbrella, owners are vulnerable to costly lawsuits and court cases, said Chris Ferruso, legislative director for National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio. “It creates a new avenue for employers to be sued,” Ferruso said. He said the federation has reviewed the bill but has not officially sided either way."

This business dynamic could be changing too though.  To attract new progressive business to the state requires equal protection under the law for all employees. Showing support from the state level would give Ohio a chance to take another step out of the dark ages- before everyone else does that we are competing with.

As I said, time will tell.  For more of the article in the Dispatch go here.

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