Prizm News / November 5, 2018 / By Bob Vitale 
In Licking County, Melinda Miller is running for a seat in the Ohio Senate, and Jeremy Blake is running for the Ohio House. Miller would be the first openly bisexual state legislator, and Blake would be the first openly gay person of color to serve in the Ohio General Assembly. (Miller campaign photo via Facebook)

The polls are open in Ohio from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Tuesday in an election that will chart the course of LGBTQ civil rights in Washington and Columbus.

 

By Bob Vitale

In a speech two weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi said the Equality Act will be one of her party’s top legislative priorities if Democrats win control of the U.S. House in Tuesday’s elections. 

In a debate last week, Ohio Republican Steve Stivers said he never heard of the bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal nondiscrimination laws. 

- Advertisement -

 

Voters across the country will decide which party’s philosophy on LGBTQ issues—plus a whole host of matters including healthcare, immigration, education and civility in public discourse—will guide Congress and statehouses for the next two years. 

They’ll mark their choices on ballots that include 244 openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates, which the LGBTQ Victory Fund says is the most ever. 

In Ohio, a field of 11 LGBTQ candidates could produce Ohio’s first out LGBTQ member of Congress, first out LGBTQ state senator, first out LGBTQ person of color in the Ohio General Assembly, first openly bisexual state lawmaker and first transgender candidate elected to any public office. 

“It represents an evolution in American politics, with voters choosing out LGBTQ candidates as the solution to the divisiveness and dysfunction we see in Washington and in many of our state capitals,” Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said in September when her organization released its tally. “The struggles and experiences of LGBTQ candidates provide a unique perspective that makes them authentic, values-driven leaders, and it is resonating.” 

Parker noted, however, that the records of LGBTQ candidates is entirely partisan. Across the country, all 21 LGBTQ candidates for Congress and all four LGBTQ candidates for governor are Democrats. 

That trend holds in Ohio as well, where the 11 LGBTQ candidates for federal, state and local office all are running as Democratic nominees. 

The divide on LGBTQ issues is just as stark in many contests.

(Click here for a rundown of endorsements
from LGBTQ organizations and allies.)

In the race for governor of Ohio, Democrat Richard Cordray has vowed to fight for a statewide version of the federal Equality Act, a bill called the Ohio Fairness Act. Republican Mike DeWine opposes the measure and wants to keep in place an executive order from outgoing Gov. John Kasich that allows discrimination against transgender applicants for state government jobs. 

In Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, two-term Democrat Sherrod Brown has scored the highest possible ratings on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard for all 12 years he’s been in office. His challenger, Republican Jim Renacci has scored zero points from HRC in two of his three terms in the U.S. House. 

Eight other Ohio members of Congress—all Republicans—have zero ratings from the national LGBTQ advocacy group for the latest legislative term. HRC has endorsed three of their challengers: Democrat Aftab Pureval, who’s challenging Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st District; Democrat Betsy Rader, who’s challenging Rep. Dave Joyce in the 14th District; and openly gay Democrat Rick Neal, who’s challenging Stivers in the 15th District. 

The polls are open in Ohio from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Visit myohiovote.com to find your polling place and check your registration. 

We will post stories all night with results involving LGBTQ candidates and issues from Ohio and across the nation. Visit PrizmNews.com or sign up for our breaking news alerts to get results in your email. 

bobvitale@prizmnews.com

 

 

 

 

Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he 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. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com