Obergefell Announces Candidacy
Jim Obergefell, the man who became the face of the fight for same-sex marriage legalization nationwide in 2015, announced Tuesday that he will make a bid for an Ohio House of Representatives seat.
“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Obergefell is seeking the 89th House District seat, which houses Sandusky, OH, the town in which he grew up. The real estate broker turned LGBTQ activist will look to challenge Republican incumbent D.J. Swearingen after moving back to Ohio in 2019. “You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,”Obergefell said.
Obergefell v. Hodges
Obergefell’s name became widely known as the plaintiff in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. He sued the state of Ohio following the death of his husband, John Arthur, in 2013 because Ohio law at the time prohibited same-sex marriage, which prevented Obergefell from being recognized as Arthur’s spouse on his death certificate. Obergefell’s case was combined with three others challenging prohibitions on same-sex marriage and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. The court’s historic ruling legalized marriage equality nationwide, guaranteeing full marriage benefits to all American same-sex couples.
Obergefell wasn’t shy in pointing out his role in one of the most substantial legal victories for LGBTQ individuals in American history when launching his political career. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just,” Obergefell said. He echoed those sentiments in his first campaign video. “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,” he said. “Some people underestimated me in my fight for marriage equality, and that was a mistake.”
Staying In The Fight
The new candidate remained active in LGBTQ and civil rights advocacy following his landmark Supreme Court victory. He joined the boards of The new candidate remained active in LGBTQ and civil rights advocacy following his landmark Supreme Court victory. He joined the boards of the GLBT Historical Society, SAGE and the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the GLBT Historical Society and SAGE. He also co-founded Equality Vines, a California winery that partners with civil rights organizations to produce wines aimed at raising awareness and funds for causes ranging from LGBTQ rights to immigrant rights.
In a call with reporters Tuesday, Obergefell shared that he didn’t envision himself running for political office until late summer or early fall of 2021. “Did I want to put myself in this type of public arena? I knew I wanted to do something to make things better.”
He also made a note to highlight his focus on protecting the district’s Great Lakes. “We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” he said. “Not only do we need freshwater to live, but Lake Erie is vital to the economies of Ottawa and Erie counties. We must wisely and respectfully put this great resource to work to drive our economic engine and recovery along the Lake Erie shore.”
Jim Obergefell: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Obergefell For Ohio