Prizm News / October 10, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
U.S. Rep. Mark Takano of California, who in 2012 became the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress, was in Central Ohio on Wednesday to stump for Democratic candidates, including 12th Congressional District candidate Danny O’Connor and 71st Ohio House District candidate Jeremy Blake (left). Blake would be the first openly gay person of color elected to the Ohio General Assembly. (Prizm photo by Bob Vitale)


‘We must elect a Democratic Congress,’ California Rep. Mark Takano says while stumping for candidates in Ohio.


By Bob Vitale

President Donald Trump’s appointment of “partisan hacks in judicial robes” makes the federal courts an unlikely future remedy for LGBTQ Americans seeking to end discrimination, the first openly gay person of color to serve in Congress said Wednesday during a visit to Ohio.


According to U.S. Rep. Mark Takano of California, that means “we have no choice but to win elections.”

Danny O’Connor

On the first day of voting in Ohio, Takano came to help Democrat Danny O’Connor, who lost a August special election by less than 1,700 votes and now faces a rematch with Republican Troy Balderson for a full-two year term in the state’s 12th Congressional District.

Takano said he’s meeting Thursday with Democrat Rick Neal, who will become Ohio’s first openly gay member of Congress if he defeats four-term Republican Steve Stivers in November. The California Democrat attended a fundraiser Wednesday night for O’Connor at O’Connor’s Club 20, a gay bar in the University District whose owner is no relation to the candidate.

“It was not wrong for us to pin our hopes on the courts,” Takano told Prizm in between campaign stops with O’Connor. “But not with the appointment of partisan hacks in judicial robes. The elevation of Justice (Brett) Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court puts in serious doubt our ability to get workplace protections through the judicial route. Congress, more than ever, is relevant. We must elect a Democratic Congress.”

The Equality Act, legislation that would expand federal nondiscrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, had 193 Democrats and one Republican as cosponsors when it was introduced last year. Neither the House nor the U.S. Senate has taken any action on the bill.

The bill is supported by three Ohio Democrats who are up for re-election this year—Reps. Joyce Beatty of Columbus, Marcy Kaptur of Toledo and Tim Ryan of Niles—and by four Democratic congressional challengers who’ve been endorsed this year by the Human Rights Campaign: O’Connor, Neal, Aftab Pureval of Cincinnati and Betsy Rader of Geauga County.

Today was the first day Ohioans could cast their ballots for the Nov. 6 elections. One U.S. Senate seat and all 16 of the state’s U.S. House seats are on the ballot. Ohioans also will elect a new governor and statewide officers, members of the Ohio House and Senate, and countywide officials and judges.

Voters in Ohio have three options to cast their ballots: in person before Election Day at designated locations in each county (click here for dates, hours and locations), by mail (click here for details) and at neighborhood polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 6 (click here to find your polling place).

“It’s the first day of voting,” Ohio House candidate Jeremy Blake told Licking County Democrats who gathered to hear Takano and O’Connor in Downtown Newark and then walked a block to go vote at the Licking County Board of Elections. “It’s the first day to make change.”

Blake, who currently serves on the Newark City Council, will be the fist openly gay person of color elected to the Ohio House if he wins in November. Melinda Miller, an openly bisexual candidate for the Ohio Senate in Licking County, urged supporters to do one thing every day—talk to a friend or family member, help make phone calls, post online, write postcards—to help create “good, positive change.”

“At this point, that’s what it comes down to,” she said.