Thousands attended Columbus’ Pride parade, the first since the onset of the pandemic. And at center stage, onlookers watched hundreds of parade floats and corporate marchers hand out pens, bracelets and coupons – all adorned with a company logo and a rainbow.
But some of the businesses that took part in the parade have been quiet when it comes to legislation that would restrict Ohio’s LGBTQ community. 
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Five large companies that do business in Ohio have signed on to a Human Rights Campaign letter condemning anti-LGBTQ legislation. Only one of these businesses has signed on to give any testimony against some of Ohio’s most controversial bills impacting LGBTQ citizens. 
The HRC is a non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights across the country and internationally. Every year since 2020, the HRC has published a statement against anti-LGBTQ-related legislation, which businesses sign to show support.
The list of businesses has grown to include companies such as Amazon, Bath & Body Works, Honda Motor Co., Cardinal Health and Intel.
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So far, 276 businesses have signed the statement. The pledge cites the impact anti-LGBTQ legislation could have on a company’s workforce, customers and the economy.
“As business leaders dedicated to equal treatment, respect, and opportunity for all – as well as to improving the financial and investment climate across the country – we call for public leaders to abandon or oppose efforts to enact this type of discriminatory legislation and ensure fairness for all Americans,” the statement read.
Recently, the Ohio Legislature has considered five controversial bills that would limit the rights of the LGBTQ community.
They include:
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With lawmakers summer hiatus, none of the bills will move forward until they return in the fall. However, lobbying for these bills could happen at any time.
Despite signing onto the HRC pledge few companies have lobbied against these bills, according to reports filed with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.
In its report, Cardinal Health indicated it has lobbied on HB 616, which would ban classroom instruction of divisive concepts. 
However, the report did not indicate any testimony or lobbying for any of the other bills. When asked for comment the company provided the following statement. 
“Legislation that seeks to limit understanding of race, class, gender, sexuality or any of the layers that define each of us and our shared history, is a step backward,” the statement read. 
Cardinal Health did not respond to additional requests for comment about its stance on specific bills.
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Honda did not report any lobbying being done on the five bills. When asked if it had done any lobbying, Chris Abbruzzese, Honda representative, responded with a statement.
“Any legislation that seeks to shame or penalize groups of Ohioans based on gender, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity is contrary to our company values of inclusion and diversity, which is why Honda supports the Human Rights Campaign and their efforts to oppose legislation aimed at restricting the access of LBGTQ+ people in society,” the statement read.
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Bath & Body Works did not include any bills on its report at all. Emmy Beach, external communications specialist for Bath & Body Works said since its split from L Brands in August 2021, it’s still forming its government affairs team.
Amazon and Intel have both filed reports for 2022 but did not list any lobbying on the five bills. Neither company responded to requests for comment.
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According to Dan Tierney, press secretary to Gov. Mike DeWine, his office had not been able to locate any written correspondence sent on behalf of any of the companies in regards to the controversial bills.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce did not sign onto the HRC letter, but in its report, it also documented having lobbied against HB 616. 
Rick Carfagna is senior vice president of government affairs for the Chamber and former Ohio House member. Carfagna wrote in a statement that as for the other bills, the Chamber has not had any of its members formally raise concerns about them.
Carfagna wrote that with legislators most likely only having a few months to pass the bills, it would be difficult for them to make it through the entire legislative process.
Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges case which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States, said he’d like to see more consistency from companies who support Pride and the LGBTQ community. He challenged companies to not just support the LGBTQ community in easy ways, but in potentially difficult ways as well.
He is now running for Ohio House in Sandusky.
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“We’d love to have you at Pride, we’d love to see you supporting us,” Obergefell said. “But we also would love to have your voice at the Statehouse, speaking out against these harmful bills. We would love to see you contacting elected officials across the state of Ohio to say, ‘This is wrong. It’s wrong for Ohio. It’s wrong for our business.'”


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