Senate Bill 305, introduced in the Ohio Senate yesterday, would include "sexual orientation" in the list of protected classes against which it is illegal for employers to discriminate. It defines sexual orientation as "heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, or transgenderism, whether actual or perceived." According to today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, if S.B. 305 passes, Ohio would become the 22nd state to ban this type of discrimination. The Plain Dealer also points out that only one Republican crossed party lines to sponsor the bill, which does not bode well for its ultimate fate.
While this blog is unabashedly slanted in the employer's favor, I come down on the side of the employee on the issue of sexual orientation discrimination. As I've said here before, is difficult to argue, in 2008, that it is acceptable to condone intentional discrimination of an innate characteristic such as sexual orientation. I also understand, however, the impracticalities of extending the same protections to gender identity. A company should not be forced to accept a man dressed in drag (for example) if that is not the image its wants to project, or if it think such an image will harm its bottom line by driving away business or customers.