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Election

LGBTQ+ Rights Icon Jim Obergefell Loses Election

Jim Obergefell

The marriage equality activist came up short in his bid to get elected to Ohio's legislature.

What Jim Obergefell was able to do in the Supreme Court, he was not able to achieve in Tuesday's Ohio election: come out victorious. The LGBTQ+ rights icon, whose Supreme Court case, Obergefell vs. Hodges, ushered in marriage equality in 2015, failed to win his election to the Ohio legislature.

According to unofficial results, Obergefell lost 61.7 percent to 38.3 percent to Republican incumbent attorney D.J. Swearingen.

"The results were not what we were hoping for, but that does not mean I will stop fighting," Obergefell said in a statement shared withThe Cincinnati Enquirer. "I will always be a champion for all Ohioans, and I will continue to fight for the issues that matter the most to our district."

Obergefell became a marriage equality activist after his longtime partner, John Arthur, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

A law in Ohio prohibited people of the same sex to marry, so Obergefell and Arthur married in Maryland on an airport tarmac, where same-sex marriages were legal. Arthur died three months later, but Ohio refused to recognize the couple's marriage.

Obergefell sued, and his case, consolidated with others from Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee, resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which struck down all remaining state laws against marriage equality.

Since then, he has continued to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality. For example, he spoke out against Donald Trump's anti-equality Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and has a wine label supporting nonprofits. He had also promised to, if elected, fight for the Ohio Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

LGBTQ Victory Fund reports that at least 340 out LGBTQ+ candidates won their races despite Obergefell's loss.

"Bigots tried their best to undermine our political power - but their hate backfired and motivated more LGBTQ people to run and win than ever before," said Annise Parker, president & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund. "Tonight's Rainbow Wave is a clear rebuke to the increased homophobia and transphobia sweeping our communities - and proves voters want to elect qualified LGBTQ leaders. With so much at stake this election, from the future of marriage equality to abortion, LGBTQ candidates' grit and exceptional grassroots support is paying off."

On Wednesday, Obergefell tweeted his gratitude to his supporters.

"The results were not what we were hoping for, but that does not mean that I will stop fighting," he wrote. "I will always be a champion for all Ohioans, and I will continue to fight for the issues that matter the most to our district."

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