Today, in an op-ed for Cleveland.com, marriage equality hero Jim Obergefell asks GOP Presidential hopefuls to go on the record about their stance on LGBT equality.
His op-ed reads:
As a proud Ohioan, I know quite well that the path to the presidency runs through the Buckeye State. Having lived here for the better part of five decades, I'm familiar with the fact that no successful presidential candidate since John F. Kennedy has won the White House without winning Ohio, and that no Republican candidate has ever won the presidency without securing our electoral votes. That's why the decision to host this year's first official Republican presidential primary debate in Cleveland this week wasn't the least bit surprising.
As the debate draws closer, I've found myself thinking about the often-repeated saying, "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation," and how this upcoming election could impact my marriage. When I look at my wedding ring, I see the honesty, trust and love I shared with my husband. And looking ahead, I need to know: Do the presidential candidates see the same thing, or do they see an opportunity to drive us apart? What will my marriage mean in 2016 and beyond if a candidate who opposes marriage equality wins the White House?
My late husband, John Arthur, and I married in Maryland in 2013. Although we shared our lives with one another for more than two decades, because of state law, Ohio refused to recognize our marriage. As a result, we waged a legal battle to force Ohio to do so, and following his passing, I continued on my own to ensure that I would be listed as John's surviving spouse on his death certificate.
This June, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that my marriage mattered. In Obergefell v. Hodges, it ruled that Ohio and every other state had to recognize the fundamental right of committed, loving same-sex couples to marry, and in doing so, established nationwide marriage equality. For millions of LGBT people and thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples, the momentous decision meant that for the first time, our relationships were truly equal in the eyes of the law.
Presidential candidates from all political stripes, of course, took notice and responded to this momentous decision. While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley all hailed the ruling, other candidates took a decidedly different approach.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that the Supreme Court had made "a grave mistake" and that the only way forward was a constitutional amendment allowing states to "re-ban" same-sex marriage. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said that a decision in favor of marriage equality would be "naked and lawless judicial activism," and following the decision, exclaimed that the day of the ruling was "some of the darkest 24 hours in our history." Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that it paved the way for "an all out assault" on religious freedom. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry made clear they hope to undermine this historic ruling for fairness, telling interviewers that future presidents should only nominate Supreme Court justices who would apply the Constitution as "originally understood," and overturn it.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and others stated their disagreement with the ruling, re-emphasized their opposition to marriage equality, but provided few or no additional details as to what that would mean should they be elected.
As an Ohioan, a voter, and a gay American, this all left me with some important, straightforward questions, ones that I hope all Republican presidential candidates will be asked when they come to Cleveland on Thursday: Do you support efforts to undo my marriage? If you win the presidency, will you follow Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader and support a constitutional amendment that would invalidate my marriage? Do you seek to be able to "fire" any Supreme Court justice that disagrees with the majority, as Dr. Ben Carson wishes to? Would you apply a litmus test to your Supreme Court nominees, so that only those who would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges would be considered? When you say that marriage equality is now "the law of the land," does that mean you'll defend it?
Also, given the widespread support from Democratic, Republican, and independent voters for much-needed LGBT nondiscrimination protections, will you support the recently introduced Equality Act, which would explicitly write them into federal law? Or will you stand against it?
Ohio is my home, where John and I spent 20 years as contributing members of our community, building a family and a life together. But it's also the state that stood against our marriage, forcing us to go all the way to the highest court in the land to ensure that we had the same right to have our marriage recognized like everyone else. When Republican presidential hopefuls gather here this week, it's important that voters in Ohio and across the country learn whether they will drag us back to an era in which gay and lesbian couples can no longer marry. For me and my family, and for millions who stood up for equality across the country, we've earned the right to know.
To learn more about the GOP Presidential landscape, visit www.hrc.org/2016RepublicanFacts.
Do you stand with Jim? Share the image below now to show your support.