The Ohio House of Representatives suddenly has an opening to represent the 26th District and Marc Gofstein is pulling out all the stops to fill the vacancy.
Erica Crawley had represented the district—consisting of portions of Columbus—since 2018, but resigned on Tuesday to fill a spot Franklin County Board of Commissioners. Less than 24 hours later, Gofstein has officially thrown his hat in the ring to be appointed to Crawley’s former spot.
Vacancies in the Ohio House are filled by an election conducted by the members of House who are members of the party that last held the seat, in this case: House Democrats. If Gofstein were to achieve a simple majority in that vote, he would become the only out gay male state representative and only the 2nd out LGBTQ+ Ohio State legislator currently serving, joining Senator Nickie Antonio.
Gofstein most recently served as the Public Information Officer for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, making headlines in January when he was forced out of his position after being critical of the actions of some law enforcement officials during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Gofstein in his first official interview since making the announcement of his intention to represent Ohio’s 26th District.
Why this position and why now?
Here’s the big reason why: if I get it, I’d be only the second LGBTQ individual in the legislature—alongside Nickie Antonio—and the only out gay man. There are 600,000 people who identify as LGBTQ+ in Ohio, and one representative is all we have. We’re pushing the fact that the gay community in Ohio has donated millions of dollars to candidates, and what kind of representation do we have?
The big thing is that this is an opportunity to put not just another person in the Statehouse, but someone who is ready to be vocal against a lot of the hate that the Right is pushing right now. It’s going to be a lot tougher for some of them to make some grandiose talking-point speeches about transgender people and gay activists when a gay man is in that chamber staring them in the face. We have not had that out gay male voice ever in Ohio, with the exception of a Republican [Tim Brown] who held the seat for a short while before he was run out.
Things just look to be just plain unhinged in the Statehouse right now, and targeted against people who stand in support of LGBTQ+ equality. Why join what looks to be a toxic climate?
The Democrats are in the super minority, which you would think means all you have to do is check in and then go play golf. But being in the super minority does not mean you can’t get stuff done. It’s really a great opportunity to start being vocal about issues, and a great opportunity to point out that the Democrats have had no say about the trouble the Republicans have been getting into.
I’m far from being a shy, quiet person. I have no problem standing up there and calling out the hypocrisy about giving tax payer money to corporations and extremely rich people, and calling out their hypocrisy on transgender issues. They have proven they know nothing about the biology, physiology, and psychology of being transgender. I can do so much to change that, or at least challenge those talking points.
What does it mean to announce this on the last day of Pride Month?
We’re going out with a big bang, baby. <laughs> This is the perfect ending to a more vibrant Pride Month than we have seen in a long time because of the fact that small cities, small towns, and small municipalities have recognized that they have LGBTQ+ people in their communities who are productive and contributing citizens. We saw an NFL player come out as an active player for the first time. We’ve seen places like Upper Arlington and Hilliard get into the spirit of Pride.
By announcing my bid for the State House of Representative on the last day of Pride Month, it’s the culmination of what the gay community in Ohio has been fighting for since the dawn of time. I’m ready to not only be the gay voice for the Ohio LGBTQ community in the House, but to be a voice that’s going to communicate our community to the rest of the state.
What do you have to say to LGBTQ+ Ohioans who are feeling a little jaded about the Fairness Act—which is kind of like the boulder of Sisyphus at this point—and the anti-LGBTQ+ legislative actions that seem to be happening with great regularity?
If I am appointed, it’s going to give me an opportunity to walk in to every other representative’s office—especially those on the other side of the aisle—and allow them to ask questions to another person.
I’m not a hypothetical. I’m not a talking point. I’m an actual person. By being there, I’m going to be very disarming to the fears, speculation, and hyperbole that those on the Right put forth about the LGBTQ community. I won’t be able to get through to a lot of folks there, but there are enough folks with fair-minded beliefs on the Right who would benefit from those conversations.
Let me put it point blank: my goal is to get in there and convince enough people to get off their butts and do the right thing. I’m ready to make some good trouble.
- Learn more about Marc Gofstein by going to his website.