Ohio voters will select the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor in the state’s May 8 primary election. As part of its 2018 election coverage, Prizm sought out the four Democratic and two Republican candidates’ positions on issues of importance to LGBTQ Ohioans.
The three leading Democratic candidates—Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Schiavoni—responded. Republican Mary Taylor’s campaign declined an interview request. Republican Mike DeWine’s campaign didn’t respond. Democrat William O’Neill didn’t return answers to our questions.
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The Youngstown native has cosponsored bills to expand nondiscrimination laws and ban ‘conversion therapy’ in Ohio.
Joe Schiavoni, 38, has been a member of the Ohio Senate for 10 years. He represents a district that includes Youngstown, Boardman, Austintown and other communities in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
“We need a new generation of leadership to move our state forward,” he said in announcing his campaign last year. Schiavoni would be the youngest governor of Ohio in 133 years.
The Democrat was born in Youngstown and graduated from high school in Boardman. He’s a lawyer who has specialized in workers’ compensation cases.
His nonpolitical claim to fame: Schiavoni was the Golden Gloves of Youngstown in 1995.
In 2008, Schiavoni was chosen by Democrats to fill out a term in the Ohio Senate. It was his first foray into politics. He won a full term in 2010 and was unopposed for re-election in 2014.
Schiavoni’s running mate is Stephanie Dodd, who has been elected twice to Ohio’s State Board of Education. She represents a district that covers 13 counties in Central and Southeastern Ohio. Dodd is a Zanesville native who lives in the Licking County village of Buckeye Lake, about 30 miles east of Columbus.
Here are Schiavoni’s answers to our questionnaire on issues of concern to LGBTQ Ohioans:
If a bill reached your desk that would add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio, would you sign it?
Absolutely. I cosponsored this bill in the Ohio Statehouse.
Do you support House Bill 160, the Ohio Fairness Act?
Yes! In my position as state senator, I submitted testimony (see below) to the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee in support of HB 160, the “Fairness Act.”
It’s 2018. LGBTQ Ohioans are free to marry the person they love. How can Ohio justify a legal system that still allows someone to deny them a job or home?
House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee House Bill 160
January 30, 2018 Good Morning Chairman Blessing, Vice Chair Reineke, Ranking Member Clyde and members of the House Government Oversight Committee. Thank you for allowing me to submit proponent testimony for House Bill 160.
As you know, this bill would create the Ohio Fairness Act, providing protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. I was compelled to show support for this legislation to ensure all Ohioans are treated equally and are provided the same opportunity to succeed.
The fact that it is still legal in our state to discriminate against anyone shows just how much work we still have ahead of us. In 2018, when LGBTQ Americans are free to marry the person they love and build a life with that person, how can we justify a legal system that still allows someone to deny those same Ohioans a job or a home?
We cannot claim to be providing all Ohioans a fair shot at success when state-sanctioned discrimination still exists in our own state. We cannot hope to attract the most talented and qualified individuals to Ohio when such discrimination is still permissible. And we cannot hope that our own children will stay close to home and help move Ohio forward when we will not move forward ourselves.
I ask that you help Ohio take this simple but critical step forward by passing this bill out of committee and moving it to the floor for a full vote. Too many Ohioans have waited far too long for this day. We shouldn’t make them wait another minute. Thank you for your time and your consideration.
In 2011, Gov. John Kasich eliminated gender identity from an executive order barring discrimination in state government employment. Will you add gender identity back in?
Yes, I will.
Ohio is one of three states that do not let transgender people correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. Will you work with the Ohio Department of Health to resolve this?
Do you support a hate-crimes law that includes gender identity and sexual orientation?
Absolutely. We have seen proof in recent years that these incidents are still occurring. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2017 saw the most murders of transgender individuals in a decade. Now more than ever, we need to include gender identity and sexual orientation in hate crimes law. Everyone deserves to feel welcome in our state.
Do you support a statewide ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors?
Yes. This past year, I cosponsored Sen. Charleta Tavares’ SB 126, which would ban conversion therapy in Ohio. I will push for passage of that bill as governor.