Senior Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a proud and uncompromising champion of time-tested progressive policies and causes, opened the ninth annual Gay Games this week with his wife and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schulz.
The Gay Games are an international sporting and cultural event held every four years that provide a safe and affirming environment for LGBT competitors, information sent by the senator’s office said. Even though the event is called the Gay Games, athletes of all sexual orientations and gender identities are invited to participate. As part of GG9, Cleveland and Akron will host 9,000 participants in 36 sporting events and an estimated 20,000 guests, performers, supporters, spectators and volunteers. Presented by the Cleveland Foundation, the event will be held August 9 through August 16.
“Connie and I are honored to open the 2014 Games and showcase the vibrancy and inclusiveness of Northeast Ohio,” Brown said in prepared remarks. “We are excited to see the cities of Cleveland and Akron come together in a celebration of the athletic talent and pride found in the LGBT community.”
Brown and Schultz gave remarks during the Opening Ceremony at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, where after lighting of the ceremonial torch, Sen. Brown officially declared open “Gay Games 9.”
Always at the ready to step into the controlled limelight his communication crew arranges for him, Ohio Gov. John Kasich probably wouldn’t be caught dead at these or any other Gay Games. It’s no secret that Kasich, married with two teenage children, is no fan of gay rights or marriage equality. Once divorced, Kasich hasn’t uttered one word or spent a minute advocating for LGBT rights, a movement that has made tremendous gains among Americans, even conservative Americans who generally lap up the governor’s Reagan-era-relic notions about small government, lower taxes and the power of a private market unfettered by government.
As recently as early April, Gov. Kasich said he supports Attorney General Mike DeWine’s appeal of a ruling by a federal judge that will require the state of Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and areas where it’s legal. “He is going to appeal it; he should,” Kasich told one friendly reporter. Kasich, elected in 2010 with the help of Tea Party activists who have since turned on him, supports the Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent same sex marriage and voted in 1996 for DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional at the federal level.
Records from Kasich’s appearance in 1998 on CBS’s Face the Nation show his Christian faith tells him, “there’s behavior I don’t approve of, and I don’t approve of the–of the gay lifestyle, but what I’ll tell you is I don’t really focus on the sin; I focus on the good that people can bring to our society, and I urge my friends and they urge me to do better every single day.”
WCPO Channel 9 aired a segment in 2013 in which Gov. Kasich said that while he supports civil unions for same sex couples, he remains opposed to same sex marriage. “If people want to have civil unions and have some way to transfer their resources, I’m for that. I don’t support gay marriage.”
By contrast, Sen. Brown, who won one of the ugliest and most expenses reelections of 2012, continues to support the LGBT community and advocate for the civil rights of all Americans. Sen. Brown is an original cosponsor of The International Human Rights Defense Act, introduced in June 2014. The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of State to promote and defend the human rights of LGBT individuals worldwide.
In April 2014, while Ohio’s first-term incumbent Republican governor continued his silence on the issue of gay students being bullied despite the sea-change among Americans who have opened their eyes to the world of people around them with different sexual orientations, Sen. Brown recorded a video applauding students participating in the National Day of Silence, and urged teachers to do all they can to protect LGBT students from bullying.
In March 2014, Brown and more than 175 Senators and Representatives sent a letter to President Obama, calling on him to issue an executive order banning federal contracts from being awarded to contractors who do not have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In November 2013, Brown voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, an effort to protect Americas from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Brown also introduced the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act of 2013, a bill that would protect LGBT individuals from housing discrimination. His legislation would expand the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity as personal characteristics that may not be used to determine access to housing or credit. Brown also is one of just a handful of sitting senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.
Gov. Kasich has done not one thing to approach any efforts by Sen. Brown’s office, and won’t because he’s beholden to the mind-set of Republican officials who for ideological reasons alone prevent them from changing with the world around them. Kasich, who has spent most of his career as a performance politician, gaining wealth and fame in the process, will never change his Bible-inspired positions on human relations, especially the kind the LGBT community that are winning the hearts and minds of more and more people each day.
In another contrast with forward thinking political figures, Gov. Kasich is again out position on these issues by his Democratic challenger this year, Ed FitzGerald. FitzGerald, behind in the polls and way behind in fundraising muscle, is a big champion of the LGBT community.
Ed FitzGerald’s Website says he’s the first major party gubernatorial candidate in Ohio’s history to come out in full support of marriage equality. He also supports full equality in housing and employment for LGBT Ohioans. As Cuyahoga County Executive, FitzGerald supported providing health coverage to same-sex couples of city workers. Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich voted three times against providing medical benefits for same-sex couples.