Tag: Hamilton

Lesbian Charmaine McGuffey elected sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio

Charmaine McGuffey: Gay sheriff wins primary against boss who fired her

Charmaine McGuffey wants to become her state’s first out female LGBT+ person to be elected sheriff (Twitter/@CharmMcGuffey)

Charmaine McGuffey, a lesbian who was allegedly fired because of her sexuality, has beaten her Republican rival to become the new sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio.

McGuffey made headlines when she announced that she was suing former Democratic sheriff Jim Neil, claiming he fired her from her position as major of the jail and court services because she is a woman and because of her sexuality.

She went on to run in the Democratic primary, winning almost 70 per cent of the vote, and kicked Neil out of the race in the process.

Now, she has defeated her Republican opponent Bruce Hoffbauer in the general election, winning 52 per cent of the vote in a resounding victory.

The win makes McGuffey the first woman and first openly LGBT+ person to hold the position of Sheriff in Hamilton County.

Charmaine McGuffey was elected sheriff after putting a spotlight on anti-LGBT+ discrimination in her campaign.

McGuffey’s victory comes after she put her sexuality front and centre in her campaign, and used the spotlight to shine a light on the discrimination she has overcome.

Throughout her career, Charmaine McGuffey worked her way up the ranks to become the first female major in Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. She pushed to have the office move towards reform and rehabilitation, and under her leadership, the county jail went from being the worst-ranked in Ohio to the best in just three years.

In her campaign for the sheriff’s office, McGuffey said she did all of this while enduring homophobic discrimination from former sheriff Jim Neil.

In a campaign video released in October, said she had “never been an insider” in Ohio’s law enforcement system.

“I wasn’t just a woman working in law enforcement. I was a gay woman – that made me a  target, a threat. But overcoming the impossible, well, that’s what I’ve done my entire life.”

She said of Neil: “His way [of law enforcement was] excessive force, harassment, and zero accountability. When I stood up I was told to go with the flow. I refused to stand by silently and ultimately, it cost me my job.”

During the campaign, McGuffey accused her Republican opponent Bruce Hoffbauer of being “unfit for the job and for this moment” due to his history of using excessive force, his shooting and killing of an unarmed Black man, and his serving on a police unit notorious for terrorising communities of colour.

McGuffey has not yet commented on her victory, but will address the extraordinary win at a press conference on the steps of the Hamilton County Justice Centre at 10.30am local time.

LGBT+ people had major victories in the election.

The 2020 election has seen a seismic shift in favour of LGBT+ representation in politics, with a number of high-profile wins for queer people.

Sarah McBride became the first transgender state senator elected anywhere in the United States, while both Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres triumphed in New York where they became the first Black and Afro-Latino members of Congress who identify as LGBT+.

Elsewhere, Mauree Turner became the first openly non-binary person elected to a state legislature anywhere in the United States, while Torey Harris and Eddie Mannis became the first openly LGBT+ lawmakers in Tennessee.

There were also high-profile victories for trans lawmaker Brianna Titone and trans Native American teacher Stephanie Byers, while Shevrin Jones and Michele Rayner-Goolsby were elected in Florida.

Counting is ongoing in the presidential election, with the final result still considered too close to call.

(Re)building Our Nation: July 4th, Hamilton, and LGBTQ Families

(Re)building Our Nation: July 4th, Hamilton, and LGBTQ Families

I am thinking this July 4th week of a song from the musical Hamilton, which sees its television premiere today. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr sing together to their children about their new country, “We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you./ If we lay a strong enough foundation/ We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you/ And you’ll blow us all away.” What is the world we want to leave to our children? What do we need to do to make it happen?

American flag with children's silhouettes

Those questions feel more imperative than ever. The direction of our country is frightening for many reasons, but I want to focus here on some specific issues for LGBTQ families. Last week—the fifth anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that established marriage equality nationwide—Indiana asked the Court to take a case that would, if decided in the state’s favor, revoke the right of married nonbiological mothers in same-sex couples to be recognized as parents and be put on their children’s birth certificates without second-parent adoptions.

Indiana’s challenge seeks to deny children of same-sex parents the protection of having two legal parents from birth, one of the primary benefits of marriage equality for many same-sex parent couples (even though the major LGBTQ legal organizations still advise second-parent adoptions as well, for greater legal security). The Supreme Court has yet to say whether it will take the case—but the mere fact that Indiana is pursuing it says much about the animosity that remains towards LGBTQ families.

Additionally, the U.S. State Department is continuing to deny equal citizenship rights to children born abroad to married same-sex couples—although a federal court last week said they were wrong to do so in one case. At least three other same-sex couples have also sued the State Department for similar reasons; their cases are still pending.

And 11 states (Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) now allow foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. All but Alabama and Michigan allow them to do so even if they receive taxpayer money. One case now before the U.S. Supreme Court involves a child services agency seeking to do the same in Philadelphia; the Trump administration in early June filed a brief in support of the agency. Not only that, but the administration in November 2019 proposed a rule to allow such discrimination nationwide by all recipients of grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which could impact not only child services but also programs dedicated to youth homelessness, HIV, and more.

We did have a huge win June 15 when the Supreme Court ruled that people cannot be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Just days before, however, the Trump administration finalized a rule that says health care anti-discrimination protections don’t cover discrimination based on LGBTQ identities. And transgender people continue to face trans-specific discrimination and anti-trans violence.

Add to all this the ongoing racism that impacts LGBTQ families as much as any others, the systemic injustice woven into the fabric of our nation from the time European settlers seized it from the indigenous peoples.

How can we celebrate the birth of such a country, especially under a current federal administration that seems only to exacerbate bias and divisiveness?

How can we celebrate the birth of such a country, especially under a current federal administration that seems only to exacerbate bias and divisiveness?

There’s no simple answer, but Hamilton may again be instructive. When Hamilton tries to convince Burr to support the new U.S. Constitution, Burr objects, “It’s full of contradictions.” Hamilton replies, “So is independence. We have to start somewhere.”

Our country is imperfect. For many, it is oppressive. Our country, like our constitution, is messy and full of contradictions. Yet here we are at this messy, contradictory moment in time. This is the somewhere from which we must start.

During this July 4 week, then, perhaps we can best celebrate our country not with fireworks, but by taking action to improve it. A few ideas, if you need them:

Those are only a few ideas. I hope you find others with causes that matter to you.

Hamilton speaks in the musical of “the notion of a nation we now get to build.” Let’s use our nation’s birthday to reflect on our vision of that notion and then get to work, building and rebuilding.

(Originally published as my Mombian newspaper column.)