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by Michael Daniels & Chris Hayes
With every single US and Ohio House district having been redrawn, the Presidency of the United States and the balance of power in the United States Senate on the line, and dozens of local offices to be filled, the 2012 elections take center-stage in our pursuit of equality and social justice. Here is our first set of endorsements.
FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – BARACK OBAMA
President Barack Obama has done more for the GLBT community during his first term than any other sitting president in history. The White House itself has issued a whitepaper detailing that “the Obama Administration has taken decisive actions and made historic strides to advance Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equality and strengthen LGBT families and communities, and continues to do so. Some of these accomplishments include:
Preventing Bullying and Hate Crimes Against LGBT Americans: President Obama signs the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law – the first federal civil rights legislation to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity;” President Obama, Vice President Biden and other Administration officials record “It Gets Better” videos to address the issue of bullying and suicide among LGBT teens; The President and First Lady Michelle Obama host the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention; The Department of Education issues guidance to support educators in combating bullying in schools by clarifying when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws;
Supporting LGBT Families: Following a directive from the President, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires all hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to allow visitation rights and medical decision making rights to LGBT patients; HHS creates the National Resource Center for LGBT Elders; The Department of Labor clarifies that the Family Medical Leave Act ensures that LGBT federal employees can care for sick family members; The State Department clarifies that transgender applicants can obtain, under certain conditions, passports that accurately reflect their gender; The Justice Department clarifies that persons with HIV and persons with AIDS are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and that it would be illegal to exclude them from occupational training and state licensing; The Justice Department issues a memo stating that federal prosecutors should enforce criminal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act in cases involving gay and lesbian relationships; HHS’s Administration for Children and Families issues a memorandum to ensure that LGBT and questioning youth in foster care are protected and supported; The US Interagency Council on Homelessness releases “Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness,” the nation’s first comprehensive strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness, including LGBT homeless youth; The Obama Administration works to ensure that the Census provides a fair and accurate count of all Americans, including LGBT couples;
Ensuring Equal Access to Housing for LGBT families: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces the first ever national study of discrimination in housing against LGBT persons; HUD proposes new regulations to ensure that housing programs are open to all persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; HUD requires grant applicants to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws;
Supporting LGBT Health: President Obama releases the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy; President Obama urges Americans to get tested for HIV; President Obama signs the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act; HHS issues recommendations to improve the health and well-being of LGBT communities; Despite challenging budgetary times, the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget not only maintains, but increases domestic HIV/AIDS funding;
Supporting Job Creation Among LGBT-Owned Businesses: The Department of Commerce signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to support federal contracting and exporting;
Setting Precedents in Hiring and Benefits for LGBT Americans: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announces that gender identity is a prohibited basis of discrimination in federal employment; President Obama expands federal benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees; OPM allows same-sex domestic partners to apply for long-term care insurance; President Obama sends the first U.S. Executive branch official to testify in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Congress; President Obama continues to appoint LGBT Americans to positions at every level throughout his Administration;
Repealing the Discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Law: President Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which will allow gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans to serve openly and with integrity;
Providing Global Leadership on LGBT Issues: The U.S. lifts the discriminatory entry ban for individuals with HIV; President Obama and his administration play active roles in protecting LGBT populations in Uganda, Honduras, Malawi and other countries; The U.S. leads an effort at the United Nations resulting in 85 countries supporting a resolution to end violence and human rights violations related to sexual orientation and gender identity; The White House announces a major three-year investment in combating global AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; In a speech at the United Nations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on nations around the world to recognize that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.” Clinton’s address builds on a memorandum President Obama issued earlier directing all agencies to “promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons;”
Honoring LGBT History: President Obama honors the 40th Anniversary of Stonewall riots; President Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King
Supporting LGBT Progress: President Obama has called for the Congressional repeal of the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” and has announced that in his view, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional; President Obama also continues to support legislation that would directly impact the LGBT community, including an inclusive ENDA and the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act; President Obama believes that all students should be safe and healthy and learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment; that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation; and that Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country.”
On the Republican side, we cannot endorse any of the candidates. Every one of them has signed a pledge solidly putting them in the anti-equality camp, even those who have previously suggested their support for our community and our equality (Ron Paul). None of them deserves a vote from the progressive, allied, or GLBT community.
We strongly endorse President Obama for both his primary bid and in the November general election.
FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE – SHERROD BROWN
As a State, Ohio ranks nearly, if not absolutely, dead last in protections and codified rights for GLBT people. Yet in the US Senate, Ohio has the most progressive, socially forward, equality focused member of them all – Sherrod Brown. A long-time progressive and champion the working class, Brown brings savvy, class, and candor to what is too-often an old-boys club of quicksand-slinging bullies. His commitment to full equality, protection, care, coverage and inclusion of all people is without equal. His voting record is solid, unapologetic and unashamed.
His opponent, Josh Mandel, is the kind of anemic politician that right-thinking voters detest – one whose ego and ambition trump whatever conviction and mettle he might have. There is nothing he will not say, nothing he will not do, no position he will not change and no boundary to how low he will go in his tactics.
In this race, we’re either standing for something or we’re standing for nothing. Sherrod Brown stands by us, and we stand by him. We strongly endorse him for both his primary bid and in the November general election.
FOR THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – MARY JO KILROY, BILL YARBROUGH
For the newly drawn, heavily Democrat OH-3 Congressional district, we endorse Mary Jo Kilroy in her primary bid. While we are blessed to have candidates in this race who all are friends of our community with a strong commitment to social justice, only Kilroy has been in the United States Congress, has voted to repeal DADT, has a generation of supporting our community, has supported national health care, has opposed renewing the Bush tax cuts and has brought tens of millions in economic development into Central Ohio. Where we come from, you ‘dance with them that brung ya,’ and Mary Jo Kilroy brought us all from the very start.
For the solidly-Republican OH-12 primary, we endorse dark horse Bill Yarbrough. Yarbrough is a solid libertarian, having run on that ticket for state senate two years ago. He is the only candidate to have earned the endorsement of both the Tea Party and Outlook Media – read into that what you will. He believes in full equality for GLBT people, unlike his incumbent opponent who continues to vote to keep us as second-class citizens.
FOR THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF OHIO – YVETTE MCGEE BROWN
We endorse Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown for re-election in both the primary and general elections. A long-time friend, advocate and ally of our community, McGee Brown continues to break barriers for women and people of color, and carries a strong progressive philosophy combined with practical judicial restraint to the High Court. She has earned our confidence and support.
FOR THE OHIO SENATE – JIM HUGHES
In the only contested state Senate race in the metropolitan area, we endorse incumbent Senator Jim Hughes in both the primary and general elections. A moderate, Hughes has had the courage to stand up to his party’s conservative base on important issues of fairness, such as SB5/Issue 2, and his courage and commitment have earned him another term.
FOR THE OHIO HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – MIKE CURTIN, MICHAEL STINZIANO, HEATHER BISHOFF, JOHN PATRICK CARNEY, W CARLTON WEDDINGTON, TRACY HEARD, CHERYL JOHNCOX, NICKIE ANTONIO, JIM HELMINK, STEVE NEWSOME, TIM BROWN
Unopposed in their primary bids, we endorse Curtin (17), Stinziano (18), Carney (22), Weddington (25), Heard (26), and Johncox (86) for both the primary and the November general election. All are committed, solid votes for equality, fairness, and rationality in government.
We endorse the following openly-GLBT candidates for primary and general election: Antonio (13), Helmink (60), Newsome (30), Brown (3).
In the contested Democrat primary for OH-20, we endorse Heather Bishoff. We find her to be the type of elected official that the Statehouse needs – fiscally responsible and socially progressive. A mother of 4, a school board member and a community advocate, Bishoff has seen first-hand through experiences with family members the struggles of coming out and understands the issues facing the progressive community on social justice and privacy issues. She has also earned the support of two of our most ardent allies, former House members Marian Harris and Nancy Garland. The other candidate, Marco Miller, has an impressive resume of public service, endorsements and residence in the district. We will support the winner of this contest for this open seat in the general election.
In the contested Democrat primary for OH-21, voters have a close decision among the three contenders. First-time candidate David Donofrio is no stranger to Statehouse politics, and shares our values and commitment to social equality. We are concerned, however, that he may lack a bit of self-control and political savvy based on his recent letter-writing initiative to The Dispatch. Trying to weaken one’s opponents in a primary, quite publicly, may indeed weaken the eventual Democrat nominee in the fall. Candidate David Robinson is a friend of our community and has earned our endorsement twice before, but we have reservations about his eventual electability – he has not made a good showing in his campaigns of 2008 and 2010 – and that he is a relative unknown in the district. Candidate Donna O’Connor brings experience as a teacher, union activist and social advocate, as well as a freshness, energy, maturity and professionalism that will serve the district well, and is the strongest candidate to defeat a vulnerable incumbent, SB5-supporter Republican incumbent Mike Duffey, in the general election. In what we believe will be a very close primary, we give the edge to O’Connor. We will support the winner of this contest against Duffey in the fall based on issues of equality and workers’ rights.
FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF FRANKLIN COUNTY – GILL, MCINTOSH, K. BROWN, MASON, GEER, REECE, CAIN, SCHNEIDER, O’SHAUGHNESSY, BRYANT, TYACK, LEONARD, SCOTT, TJ BROWN, O’BRIEN, GORNIAK, O’GRADY, BROOKS
Of all the countywide races, only one has a contested primary – and our choice in that race is clear. In the Democrat primary for County Recorder, we strongly endorse Terry TJ Brown. Brown has a strong commitment to our community, having served as president of Stonewall Democrats of Central OH, and is known as a smart, thoughtful, and dedicated public servant. He earned our endorsement in his run for County Auditor, and equally earns and deserves it in his bid to become County Recorder. We endorse him for the primary, and are sufficiently confident of his victory that we also herein endorse him in the November general election.
In the other races, we are blessed and proud to have a cadre of candidates from both parties who are committed to serving all of Franklin County’s residents with honor, fairness, and distinction. We endorse the following for their primary bids and for the November general election:
• For Franklin County Court of Common Pleas – Domestic Division: Elizabeth Gill, Jim Mason, Chris Geer
• For Franklin County Court of Common Pleas – General Division: Stephen McIntosh, Kim Brown, Guy Reece, David Cain, Charles Schneider
• For Franklin County Common Pleas Court Clerk – MaryEllen O’Shaughnessy
• For 10th District Court of Appeals – Peggy Bryant, Gary Tyack
• For Franklin County Treasurer – Ed Leonard
• For Franklin County Sheriff – Zach Scott
• For Franklin County Prosecutor – Ron O’Brien
• For Franklin County Coroner – Jan Gorniak
• For Franklin County Commissioner – John O’Grady, Paula Brooks
The Ohio primary election is Mar 6, 2012. Absentee/early voting begins Jan 31, 2012. Voter registration closes Feb 6, 2012. For more information, to check your voter registration, or to register to vote, visit the Franklin County Board of Elections at vote.franklincountyohio.gov, or contact them at 280 East Broad Street, Room 100, Columbus, OH 43215, or call 614.525.3100 between 8a-5p, Mon-Fri.