Committee Cancelation Pushes Rep. Antonio's Ohio Fairness Act Hearings Into 2018
This week, I was disappointed by the delay of a second hearing on House Bill (HB) 160, which is being rescheduled for an unspecified date in January. HB 160, titled "the Ohio Fairness Act", would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations in Ohio.
HB 160 is supported by many of Ohio’s most successful businesses and has the potential to serve as an economic catalyst to drive innovation, spur investment and attract the best and brightest to Ohio. We’re not deterred by this delay, and I look forward to hearing from our local and statewide chambers of commerce and over 200 businesses who have joined Ohio Business Competes to support fairness for all Ohioans as we continue hearings in the new year.
Ohio remains one of 28 states without clear, inclusive, non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Nineteen Ohio cities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and 80 percent of top employers in Ohio have corporate policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
More than 200 leading Ohio businesses have offered support of HB 160 since it was introduced earlier this year. I have introduced the Ohio Fairness Act in every General Assembly since 2011, and I am pleased to say that this is the first year that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce is in full support of this important legislation. I am committed to keeping up the momentum for HB 160 into the new year in order to create a fair state for all Ohioans.
State Representative Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is honored to be serving her fourth term in the Ohio House of Representatives. Representing the 13th House District, she was also appointed to serve on the Democratic Caucus leadership team as Minority Whip during the 132nd General Assembly, having previously served as Minority Whip in the 131st General Assembly, and Assistant Minority Whip for part of the 130th. Antonio’s district includes the City of Lakewood and parts of Cleveland’s West Side: The Detroit Shoreway (Gordon Square Arts District), The Stockyards, West Boulevard, Cudell, The Village of Linndale, and a section of Ohio City neighborhoods.
Antonio currently serves as the highest ranking Democratic member of the Health and Aging Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Finance and Appropriations Committee, Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, Rules and Reference Committee and the Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee. Antonio is also a member of the Ohio House Democratic Women's Caucus—previously serving as chair—and is state director for the Women Legislators’ Lobby.
Rep. Antonio is known as a civic-minded public servant who is concerned with the quality of life of those around her. Her commitment to social justice advocacy spans multiple decades, extending into public policy after her election to Lakewood City Council in 2005. During her tenure on the council, Antonio chaired the Economic Development, Housing, and Human Services committees; served on the Public Works and Finance Committees; and was the council representative for both the Lakewood Hospital Board and Community Relations Board. As councilwoman, Antonio facilitated successful strategies for economic development through proactive policies such as the sidewalk-dining legislation, which reversed a long-lasting city ordinance prohibiting restaurant patrons from being seated by the sidewalk. Antonio also supported environmental legislation that reduced the rate of toxic fuel emissions. During her five-year period on the council, Antonio was a persistent proponent of diversity appreciation and understanding through the Lakewood Community Relations Advisory Commission, of which she is a founder.
The first in her family to graduate from college, Antonio holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from the Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, also from CSU. Antonio is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School Senior and Executive Leadership program for State and Local Governments, and also a graduate of Lutheran West High School in Rocky River, Ohio.
A former special education teacher and non-profit executive director for a women’s outpatient drug/alcohol treatment program, Antonio worked for nearly twenty years as a consultant for non-profits and governmental agencies in Northeast Ohio, and served as administrator for a multi-county HIV/AIDS regional planning group. While fulfilling these positions, Antonio was also an Adjunct Professor at CSU, teaching courses in Women’s Studies and Public Administration. She continues her civic involvement through her leadership roles in numerous community groups such as the non-profit Cleveland Tenants Organization, of which she is a board member.
Because of the nature of her social justice advocacy and activity, Antonio is known as a collaborative community builder and organizer. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and civic engagement as effective tools to develop local and statewide viability and economic success. Antonio is also a certified coach and continually advocates for the benefits to society as a whole when individuals are valued and encouraged to rise to their highest potential and purpose.
Daughters Ariel and Stacey, both Lakewood High School graduates, have made Rep. Antonio and wife Jean Kosmac very proud as the girls engage in their post-secondary pursuits.