SANDUSKY, Ohio — Jim Obergefell, whose landmark US Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage nationally, hopes he and other Democrats can make gains with an equality-based message at the Ohio Statehouse this year.
“It really just boils down to this: Can’t we all get along and how people treat each other? Can’t we be decent people?” that prominent plaintiff -turned-Ohio House candidate told the Democratic Women of Erie County on a recent summer evening. “And we all deserve to be a part of We the People.”
Obergefell, 56, is unopposed for a state legislature seat representing Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline through Ottawa and Erie counties on a Tuesday primary. He is already looking ahead to a duel in November against second-term Republican Rep. DJ Swearingen, 36, a Sandusky attorney who has focused his campaign on “kitchen table” issues.
The race marks the first time Obergefell has transitioned from activism to a political run for office. Following the US Supreme Court in June, he is fighting for the LGBTQ rights movement at a delicate time repealed the constitutional right to abortion, Raising fears that other rights could also disappear, including same-sex marriage.
On that note, the US house elected by an overwhelming majority last month Pass legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages. Legislation is examined in the Senate.
In Ohio, Obergefell’s plea for inclusion encountered a heated political environment. The area code itself had to be divided because of a contentious and protracted political mapping battle with a federal jury finally set the date and imposing cards that another court has declared unconstitutional. The litigation continues.
GOP mapmakers have redrawn the 89th House district that Obergefell is targeting in light of his candidacy, and the district is now nearly 57% Republican, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, a political mapping website. That should favor Swearingen in a state that former President Donald Trump has twice won by large margins and where Republicans control every branch of government.
However, Obergefell seems to remain a threat. He is the best-known candidate for the Ohio state legislature in the 2022 election and is among the top legislature fundraisers to date, having outperformed Swearingen by more than 4-to-1, according to campaign finance reports.
That’s partly because his popularity as a civil rights icon has been supported by a variety of well-funded national progressive groups — including the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, and Democracy for America — as well as by state donors.
Obergefell said he believes his party can reach moderate Republicans and independents with its message of inclusivity when voters “see that the Democratic Party is obvious, clear, and direct about what they believe in and will fight to get them.” protect and support”.
But Swearingen said the district voters he spoke to weren’t focused on social issues, but on paperback issues.
“What I keep hearing from people is gas, groceries, feeding their families — very important issues around the kitchen table that are very relevant and important to them. They’re right in front of you,” he said. “The social issues don’t seem to be very high on the list.”
That’s not the case with Darlene Walk, a Sandusky-born vice president of the Democratic Women of Erie County. She said she plans to vote for Obergefell and encourages friends of all partisan beliefs to do the same.
“We are ready for a change and you have to accept people as they are, where they are and what they do and what they stand for,” she said. “And he stands for progress.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/-sex-marriage-plaintiff-jim-obergefell-runs-ohio-office-rcna41123 Same-sex marriage plaintiff Jim Obergefell is running for office in Ohio