Equality Cincinnati: Gay rights group endorses nine candidates for City Council

Crowded race will see 21 contenders

CINCINNATI -- In what may be a local sign of changing attitudes in society, the most candidates ever sought an endorsement from a Cincinnati gay rights group in this year’s City Council races.

A total of 13 candidates interviewed with the Equality Cincinnati PAC. The group on Monday announced its nine endorsements for council.

The PAC endorsed Democrats Michelle Dillingham, Greg Landsman, Laure Quinlivan, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld, David Mann and Wendell Young.

All except Dillingham and Landsman are incumbents.

The only incumbent Democrat who wasn’t endorsed was Pamula Thomas, who was appointed to the group in April to fill the unexpired term of her husband, Cecil Thomas.

Equality Cincinnati also endorsed independent Mike Moroski.

Moroski is a former Purcell Marian High School assistant principal who was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in February. Moroski’s termination came after he expressed support for same-sex marriage.

“There were a lot of great candidates who sought our endorsement this year, which is very exciting,” said Steve Newsome, Equality Cincinnati’s spokesman.

“Our committee believes these endorsed candidates are the best choices and will work hard to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Cincinnatians,” Newsome added. “There has been great progress for GLBT Cincinnatians and we look forward to working on important issues with these endorsed candidates.”

The PAC hasn’t yet made an endorsement in the mayoral race. It’s currently scheduling interviews with the candidates, which include Roxanne Qualls and John Cranley.

Equality Cincinnati was formed in 2005, a year after many of its members successfully pushed to repeal Article 12 of the city’s charter.

Article 12, which was passed by voters in 1993, prohibited city officials from passing any laws that protected gays and lesbians from discrimination or hate crimes.

But in 2004 a group of area business, religious and civic leaders formed Citizens to Restore Fairness, a group lobbying to repeal Article 12. The effort succeeded: 54 percent of voters supported overturning the measure.

Since that time, Equality Cincinnati has worked on various LGBT issues including combating discrimination in the workplace and helping companies implement domestic partner benefits.

In related news, 21 candidates likely will appear on the November ballot in Cincinnati City Council elections.

That’s the number of contenders who had enough valid signatures on petitions, said Sally Krisel, deputy director at the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

The City Council candidates include the nine endorsed by Equality Cincinnati along with the remaining incumbents: Democrat Pam Thomas, Republican Charlie Winburn and independent Christopher Smitherman.

Challengers who had enough signatures were Democrat Shawn Butler; Republicans Amy Murray, Sam Malone and Melissa Wegman; Charterites Kevin Flynn and Vanessa White; and independents Angela Beamon, Timothy Dornbusch and Kevin Johnson.

The only candidate who submitted petitions but didn’t have enough valid signatures was independent Nick Noel.

The Board of Elections will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday to formally certify the candidates for the Nov. 5 ballot.

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