Election 2022: Ohio's U.S. Senate Candidates on the Record on LGBTQ Issues

September 13, 2022

Following Ohio's primaries in advance of the 2022 general election, voters have selected Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan who will square off against one another in November.  In a year that has seen an unprecedented 240 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures across the country and a sharp rise in anti-transgender rhetoric, voters will consider the records of U.S. Rep. Ryan and Hillbilly Elegy author Vance, one of whom will succeed retiring two-term Senator Sen. Rob Portman, who announced his support for marriage equality and his out gay son, Will, in 2013.

Equality Ohio and GLAAD are releasing the LGBTQ records of U.S. Senate primary candidates, and call on the media to include LGBTQ people and facts in coverage of the Senate campaign, and ask the candidates about their public statements, policies and proposals for LGBTQ Ohioans. The research on their records is below and via Equality Ohio.

Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD:

“The media must hold elected leaders accountable to the truth and to the citizens they serve, especially LGBTQ people and youth who have been under relentless attack in state legislatures nationwide, including Ohio. This research will inform LGBTQ people and our allies across the state. Ohio’s vote for Senate will be pivotal for every LGBTQ American to be protected from discrimination. Every LGBTQ voter and ally must use their vote and voices to fight for equality, and support leaders who’ll fight for them.”

Statement from Alana Jochum Esq., Executive Director, Equality Ohio:

“Equality Ohio continues to welcome and work with the media—both in Ohio and across the country—who bring awareness about issues that impact LGBTQ+ Ohioans the most. We hope that this research, along with our recently publicized 2022 Ohio Lawmaker Equality Scorecard, sends a clear message that the half-a-million out LGBTQ+ Ohioans in our state, and the millions more that support them are important stakeholders for all voters to consider when they take their ballots to the box this fall. We are excited to take public education one step further this year by hosting a 2022 Candidate Forum on September 29th. We hope all Ohioans who care about these issues will submit questions and tune in via our YouTube and Facebook channels.”  

Equality Ohio has released its scorecard of all statewide candidates on their records for LGBTQ+ people, and will host a Statewide Candidate Forum on September 29th that will allow LGBTQ+ Ohioans and allies to hear directly from candidates for statewide offices. People can submit questions in advance of the forum and it will be live streamed on Equality Ohio’s YouTube and Facebook channels. 

Media covering the campaign should note the candidates’ LGBTQ records, including:

JD Vance, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate

  • Vance, J.D.Used “groomer” rhetoric to criticize those against bills censoring classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity; rhetoric that child abuse prevention professionals say diminishes understanding about abuse, endangering all children
  • Claimed that classroom censorship bills are about ‘parents’ rights,’ while an estimated two million children have LGBTQ parents, and as LGBTQ parents and parents who support LGBTQ people speak out against censorship bills
  • Campaign website says he is “100 percent pro-life” and that “Eliminating abortion is first and foremost about protecting the unborn, but it’s also about making our society more pro-child and pro-family.” Offers few proposals for a pro-child or pro-family society.
  • When asked during an interview with Spectrum News in September 2021 about whether abortion laws should include exceptions for rape and incest: “It’s not whether a woman should be forced to bring a child to term, it’s whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child’s birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to the society.”
  • Endorsed by impeached  President Donald Trump, whose administration led more than 200 attacks in policy and rhetoric against LGBTQ Americans; Vance also campaigned with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, Jr.,, and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who have proposed and signed laws, and spread inaccurate rhetoric and conspiracy theories to target LGBTQ people.

Tim Ryan, Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate

  • Original cosponsor of The Equality Act, which would provide federal protections against discrimination for every LGBTQ American. He voted to pass it in the House in February 2021, tweeting: “Together we have imagined a more equal nation. Now we must realize it. I'm proud to have voted to advance the dignity & worth of every person in America by passing the Equality Act.” The bill is awaiting action in the Senate.
  • Cosponsored the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, requiring colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to prohibit harassment and to establish a grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs, a bill named for a college freshman who took his life after his dorm roommate outed him.
  • Voiced support for transgender military service members in 2017: “As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I refuse to discriminate against those who selflessly chose to serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces. Our nation is stronger than that hateful bias.”
  • Expressed support for transgender Americans and their equality in 2019: “During #TransVisibilityWeek, I'm proud to display the transgender pride flag outside my DC office. We must all do our part to call out and push back against the hate and discrimination directed toward the trans community. They deserve equality and respect.”
  • Opposed to outdated and discriminatory screening based on sexual orientation for blood donation; The Red Cross announced in January that the nation’s blood supply was critically low and urged the FDA to update screening policies keeping LGBTQ+ people from donating.

Additional research:

  • 462,000 out LGBTQ people live in Ohio; 30% of them are raising children.
  • Ohio passed a law last year allowing medical professionals to reject services they “disagree” with based on philosophical objection, which disproportionately targets LGBTQ people from receiving healthcare.
  • Ohio Lawmakers have proposed a bill this year restricting discussion of race, sexual orientation and gender identity in K–12 classrooms; there is no statewide law to protect LGBTQ youth from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, nor a statewide law against so-called conversion therapy, which has been discredited and is illegal in 22 states. 
  • Ohio Lawmakers have introduced House Bill 704, a “personhood” bill which would effectively outlaw IVF and other forms of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in the state.
  • Ohio Business Competes is a growing statewide nonpartisan coalition of over 1,300 businesses committed to achieving nondiscrimination policies at the state level. The Ohio Fairness Act is the current legislation under consideration at the statehouse that would provide nondiscrimination protections in Ohio. 2021 marked its 10th introduction.
  • The Equality Act, which would provide comprehensive protections against discrimination to every LGBTQ American, is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate. The bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system.

Go to glaad.org/vote to check your voter registration status and make a plan to vote.


About Equality Ohio:

Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality. Equality Ohio envisions an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing.

About GLAAD:

GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.