Prizm News / October 8, 2018


After years of being used as the foil for anti-LGBTQ candidates, it’s thought to be the first time a gay couple and their family have been portrayed in a positive political ad in Ohio.


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By Bob Vitale

A campaign ad scheduled to hit Cable TV on Tuesday features the husband and children of the candidate running to become Ohio’s first openly gay member of Congress.

The main message of Democrat Rick Neal’s 30-second ad is his refusal to take corporate money for his campaign against four-term incumbent Steve Stivers, whom federal campaign-finance reports show has collected more than $12.8 million so far this year from political action committees for Washington’s National Republican Congressional Committee, which he chairs.

But if you look closely at the ad filmed in the German Village home of Neal and husband Tom Grote, you’ll also see some leftover rainbow bunting hanging on the backyard deck and subtle plugs for the Human Rights Campaign and Stonewall Columbus on the family’s refrigerator.

Grote says he’s been told it’s the first time a gay family has been featured positively in a political ad airing in Ohio. In 2004, backers of a state constitutional amendment restricting marriage rights—and right-wing political candidates who campaigned on the issue— featured images of gay couples and families as negative and demeaning stereotypes.

Neal’s ad opens with him stating the standard disclaimer required in political ads: the candidate’s approval of its contents.

As the camera backs up, it shows him practicing the line in a kitchen mirror as Grote and the couple’s two children play a game of cards.

“Daddy, why do you always say that line?” daughter Amoret asks.

“It has to do with the campaign finance law that Senator McCain wrote,” Neal responds.

“There are campaign finance laws?” daughter Sophia asks.

“Yeah, sort of,” Neal says.

“So that’s why you don’t take corporate PAC money?” Amoret asks.

“No, I do that because corporations have too much power,” Neal answers.

“But the other guy, does he take the money?” Amoret asks again as the words, “They’re talking about Steve Stivers” appear on the screen.

Grote chimes in: “Yeah, he takes millions, and then he gives corporations a big tax break.”

The girls conclude: “That’s messed up!”

Neal answers, “Uhh, yeah.”

Neal said the ad will run on cable TV in the 15th Congressional District, which includes areas of Columbus’ South Side, Downtown, German Village and the Brewery District; suburban Grandview Heights, Grove City, Groveport, Hilliard and Pickerington; and parts of 12 counties stretching from Wilmington to Athens.

The Democrat, who has been endorsed by HRC and the Victory Fund, is among more than 400 LGBTQ candidates on the ballot in elections across the country on Tuesday, Nov. 6. There are 10 other LGBTQ Ohioans running for state and local offices.










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.