Same-sex marriage prosecutor Obergefell walks out of Ohio office

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Jim Obergefell, whose landmark U.S. Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage nationally, hopes he and fellow Democrats can turn a profit at the Ohio Statehouse this year with a message based on equality.

“It all boils down to this: can’t we just get along and treat each other like people? Can’t we be decent people?” celebrity plaintiff candidate in Ohio House, the Democratic Women of Erie County told a recent summer night. “And we all deserve to be part of ‘We the People’.”

Obergefell, 56, is unopposed in a primary Tuesday for a state legislative seat representing the Ohio shore of Lake Erie through Ottawa and Erie counties. He is already looking forward to a November showdown with Republican Representative DJ Swearingen, 36, a Sandusky attorney who has focused his campaign on “kitchen table” issues.

The race marks the first time Obergefell has moved from activism to a political battle for office. He’s campaigning for the LGBTQ rights movement at a sensitive time after the US Supreme Court in June the constitutional right to abortion was revoked, arouse fears that other rights, including same-sex marriage, may be lost.

With that in mind, the US House last month overwhelmingly voted to pass legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage. The legislation is being discussed in the Senate.

Obergefell became one of the most visible figures in the marriage equality movement after he and his longtime partner, John Arthur, who was dying, flew to Maryland and got married on an airplane on an asphalt road because the couple was from the Cincinnati area. could not legally do this in Ohio. Arthur died a few months later and Obergefell’s struggle to be listed as a husband on the death certificate led to his role in the milestone 2015 verdict that legalized same-sex marriage.

In Ohio, Obergefell’s pitch for inclusion now finds itself in a heated political environment. The primary election itself had to be split due to a controversial and protracted political card battle, with a federal jury finally set the date and imposing cards that another court has declared unconstitutional. Legal battle continues.

GOP mapmakers redesigned the 89th House District that Obergefell seeks in light of his candidacy, and the district now leans nearly 57% Republican, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, a political map-making website. That should favor Swearingen in a state that has twice won former President Donald Trump by wide margins and where Republicans control all branches of government.

However, Obergefell seems to remain a threat. He is the most well-known state legislature candidate on Ohio’s 2022 ballot and one of its top legislative fundraisers to date, having won Swearingen more than 4 to 1, according to campaign finance reports.

That’s partly because his popularity as a civil rights icon has garnered support from a host of entrenched national progressive groups — including the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the Human Rights Campaign, and Democracy for America — as well as from local donors.

Obergefell said he believes his party can reach moderate Republicans and independents with their message of inclusiveness if voters “see that the Democratic Party is clear, clear, direct about what they believe in and what they will fight to protect and protect.” support.”

But Swearingen said the district voters he spoke to are focused not on social issues, but on purses.

“What I still hear from people is gas, groceries, feeding their families – very kitchen table issues that are very relevant and important to them. They are right in front of them,” he said. “The social issues do not seem to be very high on the list.”

That’s not the case for Darlene Walk, a Sandusky native and vice president of the Democratic Women of Erie County. She said she plans to vote for Obergefell and encourages friends of all partisan beliefs to do the same.

“We are ready for change and you have to accept people as they are, where they are and what they do and what they stand for,” she said. “And he represents progress.”

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