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January 11, 2013

Tim Brown, Nickie Antonio sworn in at Statehouse

Columbus--Former Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown took on his new job title the morning of January 7: State Representative for Ohio’s Third District.

Brown is now the second out LGBT member of the state legislature, following Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, who was sworn in for her second term in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Betty Montgomery, who is a former Ohio attorney general, Wood County prosecutor and state senator, swore Brown in at a 10 am ceremony. At 2 pm, a procedural session in the House formally swore in all members and issued committee assignments.

Three weeks earlier, the then-representative-elect was honored with Tim Brown Day in Bowling Green, and a reception in honor of his 14 years of service as a Wood County commissioner.

Brown is one of only three openly gay Republican state legislators in the nation, and the first to be elected after coming out. Mike Fleck of Pennsylvania came out in December while in office, as did Zach Wyatt of Missouri last spring.

Brown came out as a county commissioner in 2007, after a blog commenter said that he was gay.

Wood County, just south of Toledo, seems to be the home of the quietly gay politician in Ohio: Ken Fallows, who was mayor of Haskins for two decades after his 1986 election, told the Toledo Blade in 2007, “It’s never been an issue because I never made a big deal out of it. But if anyone ever asked, I didn’t deny it. It’s who I am.”

Bowling Green Administrator John Fawcett was outed anonymously in 2005; he took the opportunity to gather his staff and walk them through his life. He “spoke to them about my story as I wanted them to know it.”

Brown and Antonio join eleven openly gay or lesbian local officials in Ohio, including Summit County councilor at large Sandra Kurt and Franklin County recorder Terry J. Brown, who both retained their seats in last fall’s election.

Eleven additional out Ohio officials have since left office.

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