I didn’t get a chance to blog over the weekend. I was busy volunteering at the Community Festival in Columbus, Ohio at Goodale Park. I also did a little campaigning. On Saturday, Tim Kettler, Green Party candidate for Secretary of State, and I, marched in the gay pride parade between the Peace Pride contingent and the Stolen Election float. Our banner read: Fitrakis-Rios-Kettler for Clean Elections – fraudbusterbob.com.
The Gay Pride Parade is clearly the largest march in Columbus each year. It looked like 100,000 or so marchers and spectators. It’s hard to call them spectators because they are so active in their participation as they line the route.
Back when the Franklin County Democratic Party had a progressive wing, I managed the campaign of then-very young Tom Erney for Congress in the 22nd district. He, by the way, got 41% of the vote and only spent $17,000. I later wrote a paper for the American Political Science Association entitled “Waging Guerrilla War in the Heartland.”
One of the things that Erney did was become the first politician to accept the endorsement of Stonewall Union – the gay activist organization. I remember some labor voters thinking we got the endorsement of the bricklayers union. In 1991, I was working high up in the campaigns of two Democratic women, and they became the first candidates to march in the gay pride parade. They were Ann Taylor for Municipal Judge and Mary Jo Kilroy for School Board. We were warned that it was the kiss of death to march in the gay pride parade. When both of them won in upsets over incumbents, suddenly many of the local Dems wanted to march in the gay pride parade.
In fact, one of my fondest memories is from 1992 was watching sheriff candidate Big Jim Karnes schmooze in the gay bars with other Democratic candidates. What I noticed this year, sadly, in the aftermath of the Issue One debacle (making gay marriage illegal in Ohio) and the emboldened Ken Hackwell homophobes, few political candidates marched in the parade this year. When I was marching, I didn’t see ANY. While Lee Fisher addressed the march before it began, I didn’t see him on the route. Hopefully, I’m wrong here. I was hoping Ted Strickland was there, but I didn’t see him either. There’s nothing I’d rather do than debate Strickland and Hackwell at Stonewall Union.
As for me, I believe that the state should sanction gay marriage under equal protection, just as I believe that it’s up to each individual church to decide who marries in their church, under the First Amendment.