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October 21, 2011

Article 12 conqueror seeks Cincinnati council seat

Cincinnati--One of the most steadfast crusaders that fought for the repeal of Cincinnatiís anti-gay Article 12 may be the cityís first openly gay council member.

Chris Seelbach, 31, founded the gay-straight alliance at Xavier University, served on the board of Stonewall Cincinnati and worked as the campaign manager for late vice-mayor and council member David Crowley. He also led the anti-Article 12 campaign in 2003, which removed a city charter provision forbidding council from passing any protections for gay men and lesbians.

He is one of six candidates under the age of 35, and is considered one of the most visible Democratic candidates in the race.

All nine seats on the Cincinnati City Council are up for at-large elections on November 8, and the top nine vote-getters will be seated. However, all nine incumbents are also seeking re-election.

Cincinnatiís CityBeat noted that, ďUnlike several of Cincinnatiís closeted and semi-closeted politicians, Seelbach is openly gay and has often mentioned his partner, Craig, on the campaign trail.Ē

He is also on a list of ten candidates to watch compiled by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fundís Chuck Wolfe, which ran on the Huffington Post.

Seelbach carries some strong backing into his attempt at office. Sherri Crowley, his mentorís widow, filmed a campaign ad for him. He also has garnered the endorsements of the Cincinnati Democratic Committee, Equality Cincinnati, CincyPAC, the Sierra Club, seven labor groups including the United Auto Workers Local 863 and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, and the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Apartment Association.

Another out gay candidate, incumbent Canton school board member Eric Resnick, fell two signatures short of putting his name on the ballot for the November election.

Other openly gay and lesbian elected officials across the state do not face reelection this year. Among those are school board members Amanda Armstrong in Medina, Joe Lacey of Dayton and Carol Fey of Bexley, both of whose terms expire in 2013. Also up that year are the terms of city councilors Keith Johnson of Portsmouth and Jim Sands of Athens.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Mary Wiseman, who became the first out lesbian elected to office in Ohio as a Dayton city commissioner from 1998-2002, does not face reelection until 2016. She was first appointed to the bench in 2007, successfully ran for an unexpired term in 2008, and then had a successful reelection bid in 2010.

Akron Municipal Judge Jerry Larson was elected to a full term in 2009 that ends in 2015.

Summit County Councilor Sandra Kurt faces reelection in 2012, while Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown, who came out to local press almost immediately after being outed by an anonymous blog comment in 2007, faces reelection in 2014.

Nickie Antonio, the first out member of the Ohio legislature, was elected last year to a two-year term, so she will also face a reelection campaign next year. All 99 seats in the Ohio House are up for election every two years.

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