by Ken Schneck, Editor
Ohio has long been an electoral battleground and bellwether. In the past 18 elections—dating back to 1944!—Ohio has sided with every single winning candidate save one when Ohio voters chose Nixon over Kennedy in 1960.
All eyes are on Ohio once again during this tumultuous 2020 election, with particular attention focused on LGBTQ+ voters in the Buckeye State.
GLAAD—the national org working through entertainment, news, and digital media to share stories from the LGBTQ+ community that accelerate acceptance—is keenly aware of the importance of Ohio’s LGBTQ+ voters. They have launched several efforts to engage voter turnout, including one involving a certain Cleveland-born Oscar winner.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, to highlight the pivotal role LGBTQ+ voters in Ohio can (and must!) play and how Halle Berry can help.
How would you describe the importance of Ohio in these next couple of weeks?
I think Ohio is and always has been a very important state in the fight for pro-equality. Ohio plays a critical role. That is why we had Halle Berry help us with our calls to LGBTQ+ voters so that we know we’re turning out the vote in Ohio. From Obergefell to today, and well before Obergefell, Ohio has been a critical state in the fight for LGBTQ acceptance and equality.
How does GLAAD craft a strategy to engage Ohio’s LGBTQ+ voters? Does the messaging have to change than what you might use in another state?
Honestly, I don’t think the messaging really has to change at this time. When you see that your rights and your personhood have been attacked over 180 times by the current administration, when we see our Supreme Court over the past 5 years make all the decisions on our equal rights as a community, it really is about equality and acceptance and it doesn’t change state by state honestly.
How does Cleveland’s own Halle Berry play into this?
Halle Berry has been an ally of the community and a really great ally. What we wanted to do was have a way of getting people’s attention and cut through the clutter. We’re inundated with messaging, especially around this election. We wanted to have someone from the area talk to people in the area. We thought she would grab people’s attention because she’s a darling and a native of Cleveland.
Talk to us about the importance of self-care during these exhausting times. You yourself are doubtlessly running a million miles a minute.
You have to find what works for you. What works for me is an early morning walk and meditation. Some people like to run. Some people like to do yoga. Whatever you can do. Gather on Zoom with family and friends, or get together outside at a safe distance.
It is a time of burnout. These past four years have been a marathon. And I always say, “Treat it like a marathon, not a sprint.” If you have to check out for a day, check out for a day. Check out for a week if you need to. Your personal care is of the utmost importance.
If there are LGBTQ+ voters in Ohio reading this who somehow are on the fence about voting, what pitch can we use to get them to the polls?
I think the pitch was made for us when Justices Thomas and Alito on the first day back in session of the Supreme Court called into question the Obergefell decision and are open to hearing arguments against it. At the very highest level, the one big equality measure that we have gotten in the past five years is under attack. The attacks at the state level, the attacks at the local level, they are all happening against our rights.
I beg you to consider that. We make the difference. As a voting body, the LGBTQ community can make a difference. This last election in 2016 was decided by 77,000 votes over three states. There are way more people in the LGBTQ community who sat that out. We could have been the deciding factor there. We can be the deciding factor here in this election up and down the ballot.
- Check out the Trump Accountability Project detailing 180+ attacks on LGBTQ+ people by the current administration.
Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He is the author of Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew (2017), LGBTQ Cleveland (2018), LGBTQ Columbus (2019), and LGBTQ Cincinnati (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.