United Church Homes has joined Ohio Business Competes and the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, a coalition of employers and religious organizations statewide that want to end discrimination against the LGBT community and support nondiscrimination legislation.

UCH is one of more than 60 companies to make a commitment to the Ohio Business Competes campaign and several dozen religious organizations to support the Ohio Faith Coalition for Nondiscrimination, according to Equality Ohio.

“United Church Homes is an organization that values, respects and is inclusive of everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, sexual identity or sexual orientation,” said the Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “Too often, LGBT employees face discrimination in the workplace and are fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. United Church Homes stands with the LGBT community, businesses, organizations and all of those who support equality for everyone.”

Ohio is one of 28 states where members of the LGBT community can be fired or denied housing based on their sexual orientation or identity.

Rep. Nickie Antonio, Ohio’s first openly gay legislator, in March reintroduced a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing or public accommodations.

“UCH is standing up for its thousands of residents and every LGBTQ person in Ohio. We are proud to have UCH as part of our coalition –– which is growing everyday. Together, we can make Ohio a state that is welcoming to everyone,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Oho, the organization behind Ohio Business Competes.

UCH is a national nonprofit, faith-based senior living provider with more than 1,500 dedicated staff serving 4,500 residents of all faiths in 69 senior living communities throughout 14 states and two Native American nations.

In May 2012, United Church Homes declared the organization Open and Affirming (ONA) to the LGBT community and has made advocacy for LGBT seniors a priority.

Open and Affirming is an official designation of congregations, campus ministries, and other organizations affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) that make a public covenant of welcome to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.

The Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, the new executive director of the United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, said the ONA designation makes UCH different from other church-affiliated organizations.

She also said it’s important to allow employees to be who they are.

“It’s as much about our residents as it is about our employees,” Long-Higgins said.