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Cordray, DeWine stand on opposite sides of LGBTQ issues

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Among the many differences between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine are gay rights.

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Laura A. Bischoff
, Cox Newspapers

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Among the many differences between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine are gay rights.

Democrat Richard Cordray favors same-sex marriage, wants to add anti-discrimination protections to state law, and believes schools should be required to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

Republican Mike DeWine fought gay marriage all the to way the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges and continues to personally oppose same-sex marriage.

In the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the country, Cincinnati resident Jim Obergefell wanted the Ohio Department of Health to include his name on his late husband's death certificate.

"I think LGBTQ folks in Ohio haven't forgotten Mike DeWine's role in the fight for marriage equality," said Bob Vitale, editor of Prizm, a monthly Ohio LGBTQ online magazine. "He came across to a lot of us as downright mean during that whole time. He fought a dying man and continued to fight that man's grieving husband until the bitter end."

In response to several questions about his views on issues and bills that would impact the gay community, DeWine issued this statement:

"I do not believe people should be discriminated against for any reason and have publicly stated that I will continue current state policy against discrimination in employment for state employees. The law in Ohio should not prohibit adoption by gay couples. We should act with kids' best interest in mind. My running mate, Jon Husted, was adopted, and has long supported adoption into all safe, stable, and loving homes."

It's not clear how much of an impact supporters of LGBTQ rights will have on the election. But in a tight contest, which the Ohio governor's race is expected to be, turnout among LGBTQ voters could help sway the result.

The Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights advocacy group, launched a voter mobilization campaign in six states, including Ohio where it hired seven employees and issued endorsements in a slew of races.

Equality Ohio, a statewide gay rights group, recently issued a scorecard for the statewide and legislative candidates based on their votes and public statements. Cordray received an A, DeWine an F.

Aaron Baer of Citizens for Conservative Values said the money and grassroots organizing by left-wing groups "makes it a very difficult, uphill battle (for conservatives). At the end of the day, midterm elections are about turnout," he said. "It's about who gets the base out."

To help get the conservative base out in this election, the CCV is distributing a voters guide to its network of 3,000 churches across the state.

The guide highlights the differences between Cordray and DeWine on matters such as refusing to provide service for a same-sex wedding on religious grounds or whether schools should be required to allow transgender students to choose which bathroom or locker room they wish to use.

In 2004, CCV ran the Ohio campaign to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Eleven years later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Obergefell case on a 5-4 vote that gave same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry.

In his statement, DeWine said, "While my personal belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on same-sex marriage, and it's the law of the land."

Whoever wins the election may face several issues impacting the LGBTQ community. Pending in the General Assembly are bills on banning conversion therapy for youths, allowing ministers to refuse to marry gay couples, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and workplaces, requiring schools to notify parents if their child exhibits signs of being transgender and more.

Cordray pledges to work with lawmakers and business leaders to add legal protections against discrimination in housing, employment and other places of public accommodation for LGBTQ Ohioans. He also favors same-sex couples having adoption rights and opposes conversion therapy that attempts to change sexual orientation, according to his campaign spokesman Mike Gwin.

When it comes to the "pastor protection act," which would explicitly state that clergy do not have to marry same-sex couples, "Rich believes that for Ohio to succeed, it must be an open, tolerant, and welcoming state that respects all viewpoints," Gwin said. "Protections for religious freedom are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, and equality of marriage is also guaranteed by the Constitution. Rich wants to make clear that any measures that move through the legislature in Ohio will be considered by him in light of the need to balance and respect these rights."

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