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Lesbian ‘fired by sheriff because of her sexuality’ wins her old boss’ seat. She’s now the first female and LGBT+ sheriff ever in her county

Patrick Kelleher November 4, 2020
Charmaine McGuffey: Gay sheriff wins primary against boss who fired her

Charmaine McGuffey wants to become her state's first out female LGBT+ person to be elected sheriff (Twitter/@CharmMcGuffey)

Charmaine McGuffey, a lesbian who was allegedly fired because of her sexuality, has beaten her Republican rival to become the new sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio.

McGuffey made headlines when she announced that she was suing former Democratic sheriff Jim Neil, claiming he fired her from her position as major of the jail and court services because she is a woman and because of her sexuality.

She went on to run in the Democratic primary, winning almost 70 per cent of the vote, and kicked Neil out of the race in the process.

Now, she has defeated her Republican opponent Bruce Hoffbauer in the general election, winning 52 per cent of the vote in a resounding victory.

The win makes McGuffey the first woman and first openly LGBT+ person to hold the position of Sheriff in Hamilton County.

Charmaine McGuffey was elected sheriff after putting a spotlight on anti-LGBT+ discrimination in her campaign.

McGuffey’s victory comes after she put her sexuality front and centre in her campaign, and used the spotlight to shine a light on the discrimination she has overcome.

Throughout her career, Charmaine McGuffey worked her way up the ranks to become the first female major in Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. She pushed to have the office move towards reform and rehabilitation, and under her leadership, the county jail went from being the worst-ranked in Ohio to the best in just three years.

In her campaign for the sheriff’s office, McGuffey said she did all of this while enduring homophobic discrimination from former sheriff Jim Neil.

In a campaign video released in October, said she had “never been an insider” in Ohio’s law enforcement system.

“I wasn’t just a woman working in law enforcement. I was a gay woman – that made me a  target, a threat. But overcoming the impossible, well, that’s what I’ve done my entire life.”

She said of Neil: “His way [of law enforcement was] excessive force, harassment, and zero accountability. When I stood up I was told to go with the flow. I refused to stand by silently and ultimately, it cost me my job.”

During the campaign, McGuffey accused her Republican opponent Bruce Hoffbauer of being “unfit for the job and for this moment” due to his history of using excessive force, his shooting and killing of an unarmed Black man, and his serving on a police unit notorious for terrorising communities of colour.

McGuffey has not yet commented on her victory, but will address the extraordinary win at a press conference on the steps of the Hamilton County Justice Centre at 10.30am local time.

LGBT+ people had major victories in the election.

The 2020 election has seen a seismic shift in favour of LGBT+ representation in politics, with a number of high-profile wins for queer people.

Sarah McBride became the first transgender state senator elected anywhere in the United States, while both Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres triumphed in New York where they became the first Black and Afro-Latino members of Congress who identify as LGBT+.

Elsewhere, Mauree Turner became the first openly non-binary person elected to a state legislature anywhere in the United States, while Torey Harris and Eddie Mannis became the first openly LGBT+ lawmakers in Tennessee.

There were also high-profile victories for trans lawmaker Brianna Titone and trans Native American teacher Stephanie Byers, while Shevrin Jones and Michele Rayner-Goolsby were elected in Florida.

Counting is ongoing in the presidential election, with the final result still considered too close to call.

More: Charmaine McGuffey, Jim Neil

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