Prizm News / October 5, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
State Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, has introduced anti-discrimination legislation in every General Assembly session since 2011. “I have to have full partners who embrace equality to join me in the Legislature,” she said Thursday. (Prizm photo by Bob Vitale)

HRC President Chad Griffin, in a visit to Ohio, says: ‘Never before have we as a community had more at stake in an election.’

 

By Bob Vitale 

“We have the power to pull the emergency brake on this president,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said Thursday during a visit to Ohio to promote two efforts aimed at making sure LGBTQ and allied voters go to the polls this fall. 

For this year’s Nov. 6 elections, HRC has identified Ohio as one of six target states for its biggest-ever voter-mobilization effort, hiring a state director and regional organizers in the state, issuing endorsements for pro-equality candidates down to the state legislative level, and mobilizing volunteers for campaigns. 

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HRC also is part of an effort of Ohio-based LGBTQ groups to get people focused on the elections. 

About a dozen organizations, including Equality Ohio, will host Come Out to Vote!, a National Coming Out Day party outside the Franklin County early voting center on Thursday, Oct. 11.  

It takes place from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. at 1700 Morse Road. People who attend the event can vote before 5 p.m., then celebrate with other LGBTQ and allied voters. Entertainers include LGBTQ singers Anne E. DeChant, Trey Pearson and Jo’el Monroe. 

Griffin acknowledged that American are told often that an upcoming election is the most important in their lives, but he said that’s actually the case in 2018. 

“Never before have we as a community had more at stake in an election,” he said. “Only if we win elections can we pass protections.” 

State Rep. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, who this year could become the first LGBTQ Ohioan elected to the state Senate, had a message for people who can’t come to community events because they feel unable to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender:  

“There’s one place where you can stand tall and you can come out—in the privacy of the voting booth.” 

Antonio has introduced nondiscrimination legislation since she first took office in 2011. The bill received a hearing in the Republican-controlled Ohio House in January, but it seems unlikely to come to a vote this session. 

“I have to have full partners who embrace equality to join me in the Legislature,” she said.  

Equality Ohio Executive Director Alana Jochum pointed to Cuyahoga County’s passage last week of Ohio’s countywide LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law as proof of what can happen when people elect pro-equality candidates to local,  state and federal offices. 

Eliza Mann, a 22-year-old Ohio State University student, is the type of voter being targeted by the HRC and Come Out to Vote efforts. 

“I often hear my peers say things like, ‘My vote doesn’t matter,’” said Mann, who’s currently an intern at the Kaleidoscope Youth Center in Columbus. But she pointed to a special congressional election in Ohio’s 12th District, in which pro-equality Democrat Danny O’Connor fell 1,680 votes short of victory in a traditionally Republican area. 

The election took place in August, when college students at several universities in the district were not on their campuses. 

“Our voices do matter,” she said. 

 

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.