Jim Obergefell running for election against ruthlessly ‘anti-equality’ Republican

Danai Nesta Kupemba August 3, 2022
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LGBTQ+ icon and pioneer Jim Obergefell seen at the Human Rights Campaign 2016 Los Angeles Gala Dinner

Jim Obergerfell will run for Ohio state office. (Credit: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Jim Obergefell, whose historic Supreme Court case made same-sex marriage the law of the land in the US, is entering politics.

Obergefell  is running for a seat in the Ohio Statehouse as a Democrat, seven years after his historic legal case Obergefell vs Hodges won marriage equality for all.

He won the Democratic nomination for Ohio’s 89th House district on Tuesday( 2 August) in an unopposed primary, and will go up against incumbent Republican DJ Swearingen in November.

The 89th district leans 57 per cent Republican, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, after its boundaries were redrawn.

But Obergefell believes he can win over moderate Republicans a s message of inclusivity. He hopes that voters will “see the Democratic Party being obvious, being clear, being direct on what they believe in and what they will fight to protect and support,” he told Associated Press.

In a recent speech to the Democratic Women of Erie County Obergerfell, Obergefell said: “It really just all comes down to: ‘Can’t we all just get along and treat each other like human beings? Can’t we be decent people?'”

Obergefell sued the state of Ohio when it refused to acknowledge his marriage to his late husband, John Arthur. The case went to the Supreme Court and a narrow 5-4 vote gave same-sex couples the fundamental right to marriage.

His bid for office comes at a critical time. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, which had given people the constitutional right to abortion, justice Clarence Thomas has signalled it could next go after the Obergefell ruling.

Jim Obergefell was not allowed to be listed as a surviving spouse after his husband died. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

While Obergerfell is running his platform on inclusion, his opponent Swearingen has defined himself as “one of the most anti-equality legislators in the Ohio House, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Swearingen has previously supported legislation that would have banned transgender youth from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

The sitting 89th district representative even suggested an invasive “genital verification process” for young people “accused” of being transgender, per HRW.

Swearingen has stated that he is focused on “kitchen table issues” not social issues.

“What I continue to hear from people is gas, groceries, feeding their families — very kitchen table issues that are very relevant and important to them. They’re immediately in front of them,” he said, per Associated Press.

“The social issues do not appear to be very high on the list.”

Obergerfell announced his political ambitions in January. In a Twitter post, he stated that even though he is an “underdog” in the political arena he would bring his “fighting spirit”.

“I took a history-making fight for equal rights all the way to the US Supreme Court and won. I don’t mind being the underdog, and I’m not afraid to take on any issue when it’s the right thing to do. I will bring that same fighting spirit as your state representative,” he said.


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