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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 10, 2006

Solmonese thanks Ohio for nation's top election effort

Chagrin Falls, Ohio--�Nowhere have people done more than in Ohio,� said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese during the last stop of his seven day, seven state �get out the vote� tour that ended November 6 in Cleveland.

Solmonese joined a neighborhood canvass on Monday to energize LGBT-affirming voters and thank people who supported HRC�s election efforts.

The night before, he spoke to HRC Federal Club and Cleveland steering committee members at a reception at a home in east suburban Chagrin Falls. About 40 area LGBT leaders attended.

Solmonese also attended an event hosted by Columbus council member Mary Jo Hudson on November 2, before joining a phone bank of LGBT and labor volunteers, contacting voters.

The tour, said Solmonese, was to thank LGBT community members and allies for their effort during the campaign. He noted that HRC�s members did more during this campaign season than ever before, and no state gave more than Ohio.

�I just want to thank you,� said Solmonese. �We asked for more than ever before, and you gave more than ever before.�

Solmonese said that giving included money, volunteer time, and special skills.

HRC bundled $500,000 for LGBT affirming Ohio candidates, according to Solmonese, which was part of a record $1.3 million to candidates nationwide. Campaign related expenditures topped $5 million.

HRC also placed 84 staffers in races around the country, including ten organizers in Ohio, a staffer with John Cranley�s congressional campaign in Cincinnati, and a full time staffer working with Equality Ohio for a month.

�HRC has a new focus on developing and expanding political alliances with party groups and progressive organizations,� said Solmonese. �These partnerships will set the stage for advancing equality under the law in the years ahead.�

Solmonese told the Chagrin Falls gathering that his goal is to make HRC a political force that candidates will have to recognize.

In addition to Cranley�s campaign, HRC prioritized Sherrod Brown�s U.S. Senate race, Mary Jo Kilroy�s congressional bid and Ted Strickland�s gubernatorial race in addition to its regular congressional endorsements in Ohio. That meant raising $160,000 for Brown, $20,000 for Cranley, $80,000 for Strickland, and $18,000 for Kilroy.

Solmonese said those candidates will bring HRC and the LGBT community with them as they walk through the doors of Congress and the Statehouse.

In anticipation of LGBT-friendly Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, Solmonese said talks have taken place with those who are expected to become the leaders.

�We�ll be in good shape in 2007,� said Solmonese.

�We�ll never see another debate on the federal marriage amendment, and we can pass a hate crime law and the employment non-discrimination act in the House,� Solmonese said.

Solmonese said it is too early to tell whether or not LGBT people will stop being the targets of attack of the religious and political right, even if their candidates are defeated this year, though there are encouraging signs.

The number of Americans favoring rights for same-sex couples rose 14 percent since 2004, according to Solmonese. He added that the shift could be because people are currently focused on other, more pressing issues.

�Who people attack has everything to do with the mood of the electorate,� said Solmonese. �When people are afraid, there�s something is put out there for them to be afraid of.�

Solmonese said that after the September 11 attacks, people turned to their faith and houses of worship, where they were told that gay people were going to tear that institution apart by wanting to marry there.

�This year,� said Solmonese, �there�s an angry electorate. They have thrown [LGBT people] out there, but it just didn�t seem to work.�



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