LGBTQ Issues in Ohio’s Senate Debate

By | October 10, 2022

Monday night in Cleveland, the candidates for U.S. Senate in Ohio answered questions in their first debate of the midterm campaign, including questions about marriage equality and other issues important to the nearly half-million LGBTQ people in Ohio. Tuesday, October 11, is the last day to register to vote in Ohio, and early voting and mail-in voting begins Wednesday, October 12.

Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance are running to succeed Sen. Rob Portman, who announced his support for marriage equality and his support for his out gay son Will in 2013.

Ryan and Vance were asked whether they’d support the Respect for Marriage Act. Sen. Portman is a cosponsor. The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enshrine marriage equality for the purposes of federal law, and provide additional legal protections for married same-sex couples and couples of different races. A record high 71% of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, support marriage equality. 

Vance responded: “I’ve come out against this bill and I don’t think it’s actually about gay marriage or same-sex marriage or same-sex equality. Gay marriage is the law of the land of this country and I’m not trying to do anything to change that.” Marriage equality has been directly challenged by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurrence to overturn Roe v Wade abortion rights, and Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito have repeatedly criticized the Obergefell decision legalizing marriage equality nationwide.

Ryan answered: “I voted for that in the House of Representatives and I will support codifying that in the Senate. Only JD Vance can say that the bill that codifies same-sex marriage is not about same-sex marriage. The problem we have here, we have 15,000 marriages here in Ohio and when you read Justice Thomas’ opinion on abortion, which JD Vance wants to celebrate, it also included in there nullifying these marriages, and it also included in there getting rid of protections around birth control. This is what I’m trying to explain to Ohioans, that JD Vance is extreme on these issues. No exceptions for rape or incest, he called rape ‘inconvenient,’ he denied it but it’s on tape, now he says he’s not for same-sex marriage, he’s going right down the line with the absolute most extremists, the guys who want to ban books and everything else, these are the people you bring into the state. These are extreme positions that Ohioans are rejecting.”

GLAAD responded on Twitter and here:

When asked if marriage equality would be a litmus test to evaluate a Supreme Court vacancy, Vance said: “I don’t like a litmus test for any Supreme Court nomination. I want good judges who interpret the Constitution.”

Ryan said: ‘I will have a litmus test. I will have a litmus test on Roe v Wade. I will have a litmus test on same-sex marriage. I’ll have a litmus test on birth control. We cannot keep going down this road of taking away rights.”

GLAAD’s Guide to the Issues for the 2022 Election is here.
Equality Ohio and GLAAD are tracking the LGBTQ records of the Senate candidates

462,000 out LGBTQ+ people live in Ohio; 30% of them are raising children. Ohio passed a law last year allowing medical professionals to reject services they “disagree” with based on philosophical objection, which disproportionately harms LGBTQ+ people from receiving healthcare. Ohio Lawmakers have proposed a bill this year restricting discussion of race, sexual orientation and gender identity in K–12 classrooms. There is no statewide law to protect LGBTQ+ youth from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, nor a statewide law against so-called conversion therapy, which has been discredited and is illegal in 22 states.