Driven by love of neighbor, the United Church of Christ national setting, working alongside a coalition of Ohio corporations and businesses, is continuing its push to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the state where the denomination is headquartered.
More than 200 business are now part of the Ohio Business Competes campaign, a broad, nonpartisan coalition that supports nondiscrimination policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ Ohioans. The UCC signed onto the campaign in April, the only faith-based group as part of the effort. Ohio Business Competes membership has more than tripled this year, a signal campaign organizers believe is a direct response from employers who know that discrimination is bad for LGBTQ people and bad for the state"s economy.
The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC advocate for health and wholes, joined Alana Jochum, board member of Ohio Business Competes, and JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at the announcement of this membership milestone, while encouraging businesses of all sizes in Ohio to join the movement.
"The love of God and our love of neighbor compels us to recognize that every person as a child of God has worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside," Schuenemeyer said. "Stigma and injustice perpetuated by discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity causes suffering, violates civil liberties and damages human dignity. It is not only harmful to the persons who are subjects of such discrimination, but as many have and will testify here today, it is bad for business and that hurts us all. It is evidence of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the inescapable network of mutuality.
For the last three decades, dating back to a 1975 General Synod resolution and recently a 2003 resolution, the denomination has advocated for the full support of equality in the workplace, and for policies against discrimination related to sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.
"We need laws that protect all citizens from employment discrimination, and the United Church of Christ stands, as it has stood for decades, in strong solidarity with current efforts to provide legal protections for LGBTQ+ people from employment discrimination," Schuenemeyer said.
"It"s shocking but true: Ohio"s laws don"t protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. In fact, in Ohio, it"s generally legal to fire someone because they"re gay, evict someone from their apartment because they"re bisexual, or refuse service to a transgender customer," Jochum said. "Ohio Business Competes members — representing companies of all sizes from all parts of the state — know that inclusive nondiscrimination laws are good for business."