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June 20, 2008

Has discrimination hurt you?

Web site seeks stories to show lawmakers that protection is needed

Columbus--Two organizations have launched a website to gather stories of discrimination, which they hope will sway Ohio lawmakers to pass the Equal Housing and Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The measure would outlaw discrimination by sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in public and private employment, housing and public accommodations. Twenty other states have similar laws.

The LGBT advocacy organization Equality Ohio joined with the liberal Progress Ohio to create www.DoWhatsRightOhio.com. The site will collect evidence of discrimination by sexual orientation or gender identity, and also serve as an information center for the bill.

The groups are encouraging Ohioans to use the site to give accounts of unequal treatment. These will be compiled and distributed to lawmakers like the 110-page “Our Stories” books were in 2005, said Kim Welter, Equality Ohio’s program manager for education and outreach.

The personal recollections will be used to counter claims by the bill’s opponents that such discrimination doesn’t exist, or that it causes little harm.

Equality Ohio and Progress Ohio have partnered on past projects, including a “Thanks, Ann Coulter” campaign last year, which raised more than $26,000 to benefit Xavier University students working for justice and equality. Donations were collected during the right-wing commentator’s appearance at Xavier.

The two groups differ on a November ballot initiative to require Ohio employers with 25 or more workers to give them at least seven paid sick days a year for themselves or a family member. Progress Ohio is part of the coalition promoting it. Equality Ohio doesn’t support the measure because it excludes domestic partners.

Welter said promoting the website has been Equality Ohio’s purpose at Pride events throughout the state during June.

Equality Ohio’s development manager Adam Leddy said the website has collected 33 accounts of discrimination since March.

“We expect to see a bump this month,” Leddy said, especially at the two remaining Pride events in Cleveland and Columbus.

 


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