Marriage Equality Lead Plaintiff Jim Obergefell Loses Ohio State Rep. Bid

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 9, 2022

Jim Obergefell
Jim Obergefell  (Source:AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Jim Obergefell — the plaintiff who lends the historic Supreme Court marriage equality ruling Obergefell v Hodges its name — lost against incumbent Ohio State Rep. D.J. Swearingen, Ohio newspaper the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The newspaper detailed that after "final, unofficial returns," Obergefell drew 38.3% of the vote against the incumbent's 61.7%.

"The results were not what we were hoping for," the equality advocate said in a statement, "but that does not mean I will stop fighting."

Added Obergefell: "I will always be a champion for all Ohioans, and I will continue to fight for the issues that matter the most to our district."

"When Obergefell entered the race in January, he made clear that he's not afraid to fight an uphill battle — he'd already been in that position, and the world saw how Obergefell v. Hodges turned out," People Magazine recalled.

"I'm not afraid to take on any issue when it's the right thing to do," he said in his first campaign video. "I will bring that same fighting spirit as your state representative."

Obergegell left Ohio for Washington, D.C. in 2016, after his husband passed away, People Magazine recounted. Three years later, he returned to the state and "realized how his state's politics were in need of reform."

"So many elected officials, they're not public servants, they're not working to make things better for their constituents," Obergefell noted in comments to the magazine. "They're not focusing on jobs. They're not focusing on healthcare, education. They're focusing on these divisive extreme right bills and targets."

Obergefell went on to explain his motives for getting into politics: "I want to be part of making things better."

Obergefell's defeat was hardly surprising, given the poor showing of Democratic candidates for the state's 89th District in recent years, People noted.

Ohio voters also opted for "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance over Democratic candidate Rep. Tim Ryan in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who declined to seek reelection this year. Vance, who was avidly against Donald Trump before he was for him, received massive campaign funding from the Republican groups, NBC News said.

"Unlike Vance, [Ryan] had little help from outside groups as he sought the Senate seat," NBC News said.

Meanwhile, in New York, a historic race between two openly gay candidates ended with Republican George Santos prevailing over Democratic opponent Robert Zimmerman, winning the seat retiring Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi had occupied in the state's House of Representatives, and flipping the seat for the GOP, the New York Post reported.

Santos "attended the Jan. 6 rally," The New York Times recalled, but with 90% of the votes tallied the Times report showed Santos comfortably ahead of Zimmerman, with 54.2% of the vote compared to Zimmerman's 45.8%.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.