Prizm News / October 25, 2018 / By Tom Grote
Tom Grote is married to Rick Neal, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Ohio’s 215th Congressional District. (Photo courtesy of Tom Grote)

As someone who struggled coming to terms with being gay, I’m proud that folks will see a gay familymy familyin a positive light.   


By Tom Grote

“My husband is running for Congress.”

For 425-plus days this has been my mantra. That’s when my husband, Rick Neal, launched his campaign for congress in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District against the National Republican Congressional Campaign chairman, Steve Stivers.

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I wear a sticker stating “My Husband Is Running for Congress” on my jacket, coat, shirt; everyday, everywherein board rooms and movie theaters, at school functions and grocery stores. I have a bumper sticker on my car. I have T-shirts. And I sport them all proudly.

It was not that long ago that this would have been impossible. It was only in June of 2015 that our marriage even became legal. Only a few years before that, being gay was a huge liability in a political campaign, and Republicans used our sexual identity as a weapon, spreading lies and fear about us and our families.

Tom Grote, Rick Neal and daughters Amoret and Sophia with Jim Obergefell, Columbus Pride Brunch 2015. (Photo courtesy of Tom Grote)

And so I wear my role as husband to a political candidate as a badge of honor.

It matters. It matters when I go to a movie theater in Grove City with my family and some of the folks sneer and giggle and others come up and say that my husband has inspired them to vote for the first time. It matters when a fellow board member asks me why my husband is running and I get to share all of the important reasons why.

Rick Neal with daughters Sophia and Amoret at Columbus Pride. (Photo courtesy of Neal campaign)

It matters when I go out to small towns in rural parts of Ohio and talk to folks about my husband, about my family. It matters, because I’ve learned that some people, believe it or not, still do not know anyone who’s openly gay.

It is an honor and privilege to get to campaign for my husband. For the first time in Ohio history, an openly gay candidate for Congress is running ads on TV. And Rick, just like other politicians, has included his family.

First. Time. Ever. As someone who significantly struggled with coming to terms with being gay when I was a young man, I am incredibly proud that folks will see a gay familymy familyin a political ad in a positive light.

Steve Stivers has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, zero from Planned Parenthood, zero from the Sierra Club and an A rating from the NRA. Stivers has voted to take away our healthcare over 50 times, while permanently cutting taxes for the wealthiest and most powerful.

He has stood idly by while kids are put in cages and the president spreads fear and hate. Steve Stivers is on the wrong side of history, and he is complicit.

Just as we have fought for the right to marry, to adopt our own children, to be free to live our lives without fear, we continue that fight today for our families, friends, our country and for each other.

I will say it again and again.

“My husband is running for Congress,” and I approve this message!

A Franklin County Democratic Party mailer features Rick Neal and his family.