LGBT Rights:

LGBT Rights in Ohio

LGBTQ+ rights have been changing dramatically across the nation but in Ohio we still have a way to go. Important lawsuits have pushed us further into a more inclusive future but what are our rights right now?

Ohio is the birthplace of one of the most important lawsuits that changed LGBT rights. Right here in Cincinnati a lawsuit that began our right to marriage took flight. However, we shouldn’t stop fighting until everyone has equal rights in the workforce and in the hospital.

lgbt ohio

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Chapter 1:

What are LGBT Rights in Ohio?

LGBT rights in Ohio have been changing steadily for years. Although we are not the most progressive state we have one of the largest and growing LGBT communities in the country. 

Together we can make Ohio a place that is inclusive and better for ourselves and the community. Below is what our rights are right now.

lgbt rights in ohio

Evolving Rights in Ohio

In Ohio only 27 of 100 cities have protections for employment and things get more bleak when we look into housing and other protections. However, the community is thriving despite these obstacles. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton Ohio have gained national attention for their communities, parades, and progressive laws. Cincinnati was the first of many cities to enact laws for equal rights in employment, housing, and accommodations.

We currently have many programs open to us that support our health and legal rights.

  • Equitas Health – Founded in Ohio, Equitas Health is a non-profit community health center and is one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDs serving clinics in the U.S.
  • PFLAG – Provides support and education for LGBTQ+ families and the community at large.
  • Equality Ohio – is an organization focused on bringing equality to the LGBTQ community in Ohio.

Indiana LGBT Stats


Total LGBTQ Adult Population.


% of Adults (18+) Who are LGBTQ


Are raising children.


Who Have Income <$24K

Chapter 2:


After the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2016 LGBT marriage has been legal across Ohio and the nation. The landmark decision helped to normalize the fight for rights in Ohio so much that approval ratings have gone up to more than 60% and in some polls 68% in recent years. 

lgbt marriage in ohio

The Fight Toward Equal Marriage

Although the Obergefell case originated right here in Cincinnati, Ohio during the years before in the 2003-2004 time period we were passing laws to limit same-sex marriage. Like many states at the time Ohio passed laws not recognizing the domestic partnerships or marriages enacted in other states and lead to many in the community pushing back. This push back lead to the Obergefell case that changed marriage equality nationwide.


  • All states recognize marriages performed in other states
  • Same-sex couples can file joint state tax returns
  • Employers must now offer same-sex couple spousal benefits
  • Couples have the same visitation and decision making rights as other couples
  • Now same-sex couples have the same rights upon the death of a partner
  • A right to divorce

Chapter 3:

Same-Sex Adoption

It wasn’t until 2016 that Ohio began allowing same-sex adoption. Before this, many same-sex couples had to go through single adoption that only gave one parent rights to the child. However, adoption is still difficult today. 

Although same-sex adoption is an Ohio LGBT right, religious groups could still refuse to allow them to adopt. This is a huge problem as most affordable adoptions in the state are done through Catholic Social Services.

lgbt adoption in ohio

How Same-Sex Adoption Came to Ohio

Much like when Ohio attempted to outlaw domestic partnerships, Mississippi brought about same-sex adoption by denying them. When Mississippi attempted to outlaw adoptions by same-sex couples they soon found themselves in hot water when it became a federal court case. Judges found Mississippi’s law unconstitutional and made other states question their stance on similar laws. This lead to new and more progressive Ohio gay rights.

Rights We Still Don’t Have:

  • No Parental Leave Laws for Same-Sex Couples
  • Non-Discrimination Laws for Same-Sex Couples Looking to Adopt are nonexistent
  • No Non-Discrimination Laws for Foster Care

Chapter 4:

Conversion Therapy

Despite every article and study on conversion therapy showing that it does not work, many states still have not banned it. This is true here in Ohio as well. However, 7 cities have banned it and with the help of the community we can continue to check off cities across the state. 

lgbt conversion therapy bans

Conversion Therapy in Ohio

Conversion therapy has been a hot topic in the news but we’ve seen little head way in the state of Ohio. Which gives concern for Ohio gay rights progress.

Currently only about 15% of all LGBTQ+ are protected from conversion therapy in the state.

This includes 7 cities in the state. In Dayton, where our headquarters are located, there is a law to help minors from being exposed to the practice. The law states that a $200 fine is given for every day that conversion therapy is administered on a minor.

Percent of State with Conversion Therapy Ban

Chapter 5:

Transgender Rights & Hospitals

Trans rights have been harder to get through in Ohio. Employment laws tend to fall in favor of company dress codes, the state does not allow a change of gender on a birth certificate, and 1 in 5 avoid hospitals due to discrimination. 

Trans rights and hospital rights go hand in hand for many issues as doctors and nurses are not properly trained to handle LGBT clients.

transgender rights in ohio

Transgender Rights in Ohio

Ohio is only one of three states that do not allow trans individuals to change their gender on their birth certificates.

The state does allow citizens to change their gender on the drivers license but are must choose between only male or female.

This year there has been a lot of push back from the trans community in Ohio and there may soon be changes to the law. Hopefully with more trans men and women fighting back in court we will see an improvement in Ohio’s gay rights overall.

Equitas Name and Gender Documents

Ohio Name & Gender Change Documents

Driver's License/ Gender

Declaration of Gender Change form

Birth Certificate Form

Application for Birth Certificate

Ohio Trans Surgeons

List of surgeons that perform transitioning services

To obtain a legal name change in Ohio, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. At least 30 days before the hearing, the applicant must publish notice of the hearing in a newspaper, though publication requirements can be waived for the applicant’s personal safety. Depending on the nature of the offense, applicants with prior criminal convictions may not be eligible for a name change. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2717.01).

For step-by-step guides on the name and gender changes for adults and minors in Ohio as well as county specific information, see Equitas Health Name & Gender Change Info.

For information on legal name changes for minors under 18 in Ohio, see NCTE’s Name Changes for Minors in Ohio resource.

In order to update the name on an Ohio ID, an applicant must submit a court order certifying the name change. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles addresses name change here.

In order to update the gender marker on an Ohio ID, applicants should follow the following steps:

Fill out a Declaration of Gender Change signed by the applicant at the top and signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, psychologist, therapist, or social worker certifying the applicant’s gender identity at the bottom.
Send the completed form to this address:
Ohio Department of Public Safety
Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Attn: License Control
P.O. Box 16784
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6784

Applicants will be notified in writing if the gender change is approved, please allow 7-10 days for processing.
Applicants should bring the documentation of gender change approval to any local License Bureau agency to receive their new corrected card.

Ohio statute does not provide any guidance on updating the gender marker on a birth certificate, and currently the Ohio Department of Health is refusing to issue birth certificates with updated gender markers, even when presented with a court order for gender change.

On March 29, 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging Ohio’s refusal to correct the gender marker on birth certificates for transgender people. You can read more about the pending lawsuit here:

LGBT Hospital Rights in Ohio

Play Video

Hospital rights in Ohio can be confusing and hard to navigate. Thanks to programs like the Human Rights Campaign we can keep track of hospitals across the state that respect the rights of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, there are still some things to look out for.

First, Ohio must report the health history of any person with HIV. Your HIPPA rights are not acknowledged with this condition and you could face jail time if you are not open about it to your doctor. Next, the CRFD or Consciences and Religious Freedom Division could make it legal for a health provider to discriminate against a patient based on the religious beliefs of the doctor or nurse.

Chapter 6:

Employment Laws

On June 15, 2020 a landmark decision was made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally employment rights would extend to LGBT individuals federally. This means that your employer can not fire you for being gay, lesbian, or transgendered. However, in At-Will states you may still be in danger of being fired but given another reason to avoid a lawsuit.

lgbt employment laws

Employment Protections in Ohio

The Supreme Court found on June 15, 2020 that employers can not fire an LGBT employee for simply being gay, lesbian, or transexual. This decision made workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal in all 50 states.

Play Video
Percent of Cities with LGBT Employment Protections in Ohio

If you have been fired because of your sexual orientation or gender identity you have rights. The lawyers at Dyer, Garofalo, Mann, and Shultz can help you fight back.

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