COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Monday’s landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court protecting people from being discriminated against based on how they identify or who they love has local members of the LGBTQIA community and their supporters celebrating.
However, even with this ruling, members said their fight is far from over.
With Columbus Pride Week getting started with Columbus City Hall being lit with rainbow lights Monday, those who are gay, lesbian, or transgender no longer have to worry about celebrating Pride one night and then being fired from their job the next day.
“It is serious,” said Lanchlen, an employee at Out of the Closet, a North High Street thrift store with profits going to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “It is something that needs to be talked about.”
It’s a fear LGBTQIA Ohioans know all too well… will they be fired from their job because of who they are?
“People are just very secluded in their own work space and they feel very unsafe and it’s still happening every day,” Lanchlen said. “I mean, customers still come in and want to harass
the people, the employees, who work here.”
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Federal Civil Rights Act bars gay, lesbian, and transgender workers from being discriminated against at their work place.
“I think it’s important for us as a community to be able to celebrate this and to know that we can’t be erased and that our community matters,” said Gerry Rodriguez, president of Stonewall Columbus’ board of trustee.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost joined a multi-state brief last year fighting against the inclusion.
In a statement Monday, Yost said, “All people deserve to be treated fairly. For me and for Ohio, that has never been in dispute. The question had been whether Title VII applies to these facts of if further action by Congress was necessary.”
The decision is a step members of the LGBTQIA community are excited about, but their work to reach equality is not finished.
“We shouldn’t just acknowledge this as a moment of, like, ‘Oh, we accomplished something, let’s stop.’ This is just, like, the beginning,” said Colton, another Out of the Closet employee.
Rodriguez said that we all need to be having conversations with our colleagues at work about these issues if we are going to see real cultural change, and though it may be uncomfortable, it is important.