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'Not So Straight Talk Express' rolls into Ohio
Columbus--A busload of LGBT activists rolled into Ohio on October 17 to canvass battleground neighborhoods for Barack Obama and other Democrats, including Ohio House hopeful Nancy Garland in the 20th District.
The 28 volunteers, mostly from Massachusetts, paid $160 each to ride here on a bus dubbed the “Not So Straight Talk Express.”
Joined by members of the Ohio Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus and volunteers from Equality Ohio, nearly 80 people canvassed neighborhoods in Whitehall, a southeast Columbus suburb.
It was the largest LGBT canvass in Ohio history. In two days, more than 8,000 homes were visited.
Garland is endorsed by Equality Ohio. Her three-term Republican opponent, Jim McGregor has an anti-LGBT voting record and is considered vulnerable this year. The LGBT event was Garland’s largest canvass, walking in the precincts she needs to win.
The working-class neighborhood is not solidly in Obama’s camp, either. The canvassers met with much resistance.
The event was organized by openly gay Massachusetts Rep. Carl Sciortino and MassEquality director Marc Solomon.
The two decided that Massachusetts was already in the Obama win column, and that they needed to do something in a swing state.
“If I can’t put my money where my mouth is, I can’t complain,” said Patrick Lang of San Francisco, who quit work in software sales and came to Ohio to help organize LGBT voters for the Obama ticket.
The biggest surprise Lang and the folks from Massachusetts had is the intensity of the presidential campaign in Ohio.
“It is good to knock on doors for someone else,” said Sciortino, who left his campaign to come to Ohio. “This is very energizing for me.”
Brett Thomas flew from San Francisco to Boston to ride the bus to Ohio with his sister Gerry.
“Like Massachusetts, California is a foregone conclusion. There are no ads. There is a sense of urgency here,” he said.
“If anything changed today it was me,” said Thomas. “Going door to door helped me put a face on people who might be the opposition. This opened my eyes to what they think.”
“Partnering of LGBT organizations like this is a great model that needs to be built on,” said Sciortino. “This may be a first for something like this.”
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