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Same-sex marriage plaintiff Obergefell runs for Ohio office

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) Jim Obergefell, whose landmark case prior to the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationally, is hoping he and fellow Democrats could make gains in the Ohio Statehouse this season with a note grounded in equality.

It certainly just all boils down to: Cant most of us just go along and treat one another like humans? Cant we be decent people? the celebrity plaintiff -turned-Ohio House candidate told the Democratic Women of Erie County on a recently available summer evening. And most of us deserve to participate We individuals.

Obergefell, 56, is unopposed in a primary Tuesday for circumstances legislative seat representing Ohios Lake Erie coast through Ottawa and Erie counties. Hes already looking toward a November faceoff against second-term Republican Rep. D.J. Swearingen, 36, a Sandusky attorney who has focused his campaign on dining room table issues.

The race marks the 1st time that Obergefell has moved from activism right into a political run for office. Hes campaigning at a sensitive time for the LGBTQ rights movement following the U.S. Supreme Court in June repealed the constitutional to abortion, raising fears that other rights could also fall away, including same-sex marriage.

Knowing that, the U.S. House overwhelmingly voted last month to approve legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriages. The legislation has been considered in the Senate.

Obergefell became being among the most visible figures in the marriage equality movement after he and his longtime partner, John Arthur, who was simply dying, flew to Maryland and were wed in a plane on a tarmac as the Cincinnati-area couple couldnt achieve this legally in Ohio. Arthur died a couple of months later, and Obergefells fight to be listed as spouse on the death certificate resulted in his role in the landmark 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

In Ohio now, Obergefells pitch for inclusion is running right into a heated political environment. The principal election itself needed to be split due to a contentious and protracted political mapmaking fight, with a federal panel of judges ultimately setting the date and imposing maps a different court has declared unconstitutional. Legal battles continue.


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GOP mapmakers redrew the 89th House District that Obergefell is seeking when confronted with his candidacy, and the district now leans nearly 57% Republican, in accordance with Daves Redistricting App, a political mapmaking website. Which should favor Swearingen in circumstances that former President Donald Trump twice won by wide margins and where Republicans control every branch of government.

Obergefell seems to remain a threat, however. He could be the best-known state legislative candidate on Ohios 2022 ballot and among its top legislative fundraisers up to now, having outraised Swearingen a lot more than 4 to at least one 1, in accordance with campaign finance reports.

Thats partly because his popularity as a civil rights icon has drawn support from the host of deep-pocketed national progressive groups like the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the Human Rights Campaign and Democracy for America in addition to in-state donors.

Obergefell said he believes his party can reach moderate Republicans and independents making use of their message of inclusiveness if voters start to see the Democratic Party being obvious, being clear, being direct on which they have confidence in and what they’ll fight to safeguard and support.

But Swearingen said district voters hes spoken to aren’t centered on social issues, but on pocketbook ones.

What I continue steadily to hear from people is gas, groceries, feeding their own families very dining room table issues that have become relevant and vital that you them. Theyre immediately before them, he said. The social issues usually do not look like high on the list.

Thats false for Darlene Walk, a Sandusky native and vice president of the Democratic Women of Erie County. She said she plans to vote for Obergefell and is encouraging friends of most partisan persuasions to accomplish exactly the same.

Were ready for a big change, and you need to accept people because they are, where they’re and what they do and what they are a symbol of, she said. And he means progress.

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