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November 5, 2010

Two other open Ohio candidates come up short

Republican victories bode poorly for LGBT equality

As Lakewood city councilor Nickie Antonio became the first openly lesbian or gay person elected to the Ohio legislature and Dayton’s Judge Mary Wiseman was elected to her appointed seat, two other out Ohio candidates did not win election.

Wiseman was elected to the bench she has held since her appointment to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in 2008 by Governor Ted Strickland.

With that appointment, Wiseman, a Democrat, became the first openly LGBT judge in Ohio. She earned 110,066 votes on November 2, also running unopposed.

Previously, Wiseman served as a Dayton city commissioner.

In Franklin County, openly gay auditor candidate Terry Brown, a Democrat, came in second in a three way race that included Republican Clarence Mingo, the incumbent, and Libertarian Michael Blose.

Mingo won the race with 178,402 votes. Brown earned 158,155, and Blose earned 13,927.

In the Cuyahoga County Council District 3 race, openly gay Green Party candidate Alan Crossman was unsuccessful in his attempt to take the newly-created seat, coming in third behind victorious Democrat Dan Brady and Republican Patty Gascoyne.

Openly gay special events manager Dale Smith and bisexual political activist Tim Russo had also thrown their hats in the county council ring for the District 7 seat, but were defeated in the September Democratic primary by Yvonne Conwell, who won the seat on November 2.

The historic victories by Antonio and Wiseman are in contrast to a state and federal political climate that all but ensures that no LGBT legislative advances will occur for quite some time, with the exception of Cuyahoga County, which retained its pro-LGBT Democratic dominance.

Ohio government will be controlled by anti-LGBT Republicans in every branch of government, returning to much of what it was prior to Strickland’s 2006 victory, where regular attacks were made on LGBT people and their families.

Republicans, all with anti-LGBT records, swept all the Executive Branch offices, and will, led by Governor-elect John Kasich, also control the attorney general, auditor, treasurer and secretary of state offices. In each case, a Democrat with longstanding relationships with the LGBT community was defeated, though the issues were economic and anti-Obama sentiment, not social issues.

However, there is an expectation that the new Republicans will promote a socially conservative agenda, also.

The future of the executive orders Strickland signed protecting LGBT state employees from discrimination is now in doubt. It is also unlikely that Kasich will appoint any openly LGBT people to positions of influence as Strickland did.

There was little change on the Ohio Supreme Court, with the election of Republicans Maureen O’Connor to the chief justice post and the re-election of Justice Judith Lanzinger to her seat.

Antonio, however, will join an Ohio House now controlled by Republicans who are ideologically similar to those who controlled it prior to 2008, when marriage, adoption and employment rights for LGBT people were under constant threat. Pro-LGBT Democrats, elected in 2008, held off the threats and passed the Equal Housing and Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House.

Results were not final at press time, but it appears that Republicans will control at least 57 of the 99 House seats in January, and that arch-conservative and vocal anti-gay Rep. William Batchelder of Medina will become the next speaker.

The Ohio Senate was already controlled by Republicans, who added an additional two seats to their majority.

Nationally, the Democratic losses in the House and Senate virtually ensure that pro-LGBT legislation, including the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act are in peril.

The Human Rights Campaign, trying to put as positive spin on the election results as possible, released a statement saying, “The loss of the House to anti-equality leaders is a serious blow to the LGBT community. The presumptive leadership team of Reps. Boehner, Cantor and Pence all score zeros on the HRC scorecard and many soon-to-be committee chairs have long anti-LGBT records.”

“We will be prepared to fight attempts to turn back the clock on equality as well as highlight how far this new leadership is outside the mainstream of public opinion,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese.

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