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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
August 19, 2005

Ohio is central to gay Dems' 2006 plan, leader says

Columbus--Ohio�s 2006 election will be a national organizing priority for gay Democrats, according to a plan outlined August 10 in Columbus.

National Stonewall Democrats executive director Eric Stern announced the plan at the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio�s annual wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser at Axis nightclub.

The event raised over $3,500, all of which will be used to get out the vote for LGBT-affirming Democrats during next year�s election for all state executive officers, many legislators and a U.S. Senate seat.

Stern, a Wadsworth, Ohio native and Marietta College alumnus, said the national group will spend $50,000 in Ohio on a field operation, which will include paid staff to organize volunteers to do targeted voter identification.

Stern said the 2004 election focused the group�s attention on the electoral importance of Ohio.

�We�re going to work to blue Ohio,� said Stern, �and have a presence after November [2006]. For us, Ohio is now a logical investment for permanent growth. And when the election is over, we will stay in Ohio to develop new [Stonewall Democrats] chapters in smaller cities like Akron and Dayton.�

Stern said that nationally, states with legislatures that switch from Republican to Democrat are also likely to have pro-gay legislation introduced.

Ohio�s Democratic Party also needs more pro-gay language in its platform, according to Stern, and his office also intends to work with local GLBT Democrats to tackle that.

Stern said other priorities of the national organization are working to remove anti-gay Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum from office and lobbying the Democratic National Committee to push state party chairs to promote more pro-GLBT legislation in the states.

The Stonewall Democrats were among the first constituency groups to support Howard Dean�s campaign to become the national party chair.

Asked if National Stonewall Democrats had an organized response to the seven Democrat senators who joined seven Republicans in last spring�s agreement to temporarily preserve the filibuster, Stern said it didn�t. The pact also guaranteed the confirmation of three anti-gay circuit court judges. Democrat senators also will not oppose the confirmation of John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court.

�It�s not just us. The whole progressive community is far behind the right wing at holding our public officials hostage,� Stern said.

�But we�re not a federal lobbying group,� said Stern. �Our work is electoral.�

Statewide candidates for next year� s election were among the 140 people at the event, including gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland; secretary of state candidate and current Franklin County judge Jennifer Brunner; state treasurer candidate and current Franklin County treasurer Richard Cordray; and Ohio Supreme Court candidate Judge A.J. Wagner, who is currently on the bench in Montgomery County.

Columbus mayor and gubernatorial candidate Michael Coleman was represented by his wife, Frankie.

Columbus area state representatives Dan Stewart and Mike Mitchell were there, as was Franklin County Democratic Party Chair William Anthony and Ohio House District 19 candidate Emily Kreider.

Local candidates for this November�s elections also attended, including lesbian Columbus City Council member Mary Jo Hudson, Columbus school board member Andrew Ginther, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Eric Brown and Franklin County Municipal Court candidates Lori Tyack, Andrea Peeples, Mike Rankin and Jeff Porter.

The group inducted three community leaders into its new Hall of Fame recognizing champions of GLBT equality.

Inductees were Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, Columbus City Council member Maryellen O�Shaughnessy, and longtime community activist Steve Shellabarger.


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