Statewide survey reveals support for LGBT

Elise Franco

Results of the first-ever comprehensive statewide survey dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues were released yesterday by the Equality Ohio Education Fund.

Eight hundred registered voters in Ohio were asked questions about topics such as hospital visitation rights, workplace discrimination laws and same-sex marriage laws.

The survey results stated that although only 34 percent polled supported same-sex marriage, 91 percent were in favor of passing legislation allowing partners the absolute right to visit one another in the hospital, and 68 percent supported laws that would make it illegal to fire or deny housing to an individual based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lynne Bowman, executive director of the Equality Ohio Education Fund, said the survey shows that Ohioans are supportive of equal rights, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I believe the survey shows that voters in Ohio are aware that same-sex couples have valued relationships like all couples,” she said.

April Templeman, co-chair of Kent State’s Queer Liberation Front, said she’s slightly surprised by the results.

“The 34 percent figure doesn’t surprise me because Ohio is conservative, but it does surprise me that 91 percent of people voted to allow that one benefit,” she said. “Why would they allow that one benefit and not the rest?

“It’s like people are saying same-sex couples shouldn’t get benefits when it’s something that might make them happy, but they should if their partner is sick, or something; there should be no exceptions.”

Carrie Wicks, vice president of PRIDE!Kent, said it’s encouraging to see increasing support for LGBT people, but it is a movement that’s still in the process.

“Regardless of what people support the most, it still doesn’t show what this country needs if a majority of people are still against same-sex marriage,” she said. “Discrimination is discrimination. Saying no to marriage yet saying yes to hospital visitation privileges doesn’t cut it.”

Templeman also said it’s encouraging to see a higher figure for support against workplace discrimination because it shows a changing attitude in the general population.

“It’s not morally or fiscally responsible to fire someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said. “The state of Ohio is in an economic depression, and getting rid of jobs on a discriminatory basis is not something the state can afford to practice.”

Bowman said it’s important to realize Ohio ranks last in state legislation that gives rights and protection to LGBT citizens.

“Our laws are currently out of line with the values of Ohio voters,” she said. “And it’s time to bring the laws in line, now that we know where the people of Ohio stand.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].