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Tag: Ohio Republican Party

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Wants to Suffocate Death Row Inmates to Death

dave yost

By Alan Johnson, Ohio Capital Journal, Used with Permission

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost just couldn’t resist jumping on board a new way to kill people – or the opportunity to be in front of television cameras.

Yost, Ohio’s two-term Republican attorney general, on Tuesday announced his support for legislation to allow nitrogen hypoxia to be used in Ohio executions. The bill is sponsored by state Reps. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, and Phil Plummer, R-Dayton.

Yost said Ohio has “broke faith” with crime victims and jurors by not carrying out death sentences for the last five years while capital punishment remains law. Without mentioning Gov. Mike DeWine by name, Yost said not following the law is “an abdication of the sovereignty of the state of Ohio.”

The proposal, which has 13 cosponsors, would allow condemned inmates to choose between execution by lethal drugs or nitrogen hypoxia. However, nitrogen hypoxia would be used if lethal injection drugs are unavailable, which has been the case for the past five years.

Yost, who desperately wants to be Ohio’s next governor, is woefully misguided in pushing Ohio to follow suit with Alabama by adopting nitrogen hypoxia for capital punishment.

His push at this point is untimely, unseemly, and unnecessary. It is an exercise in personal and political vanity at a time when Ohioans are less interested in executions. Bipartisan legislation to end capital punishment is pending before the General Assembly.

Alabama executed Kenneth Eugene Smith on Jan. 27, using nitrogen gas for the first time in U.S. history. Officials called it a “textbook” execution but media eyewitnesses described a quite different scene as Smith shook violently and thrashed on the gurney after the gas began flowing. He gasped for breath for several minutes and appeared to be dry-heaving into the mask covering his face.

The execution of Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16, 2014, was one of the last executions I witnessed as a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch. Like the execution of Smith, McGuire’s death by lethal injection was a nightmare. He gasped, choked, struggled, and writhed on the execution table for 12 minutes before, mercifully, it was over. It was by far the most gruesome of 21 executions I witnessed.

In the process used on Smith, nitrogen — and no oxygen — is pumped into an airtight mask worn by the condemned. The result is suffocation. It is so dangerous that a spiritual adviser in the execution chamber had to sign a waiver of liability in case the gas leaked.

Ohio hasn’t had an execution since 2018. Gov. DeWine, also a Republican, has repeatedly delayed scheduled executions, citing the lack of availability of lethal injection drugs. It is certain there will be no executions here until the end of his term in 2026.

So why is Yost weighing in at this point? 

He tipped his hand last year when he used the Capital Crimes Report issued annually by the attorney general as a bully pulpit to express his desire to resume executions which he said have been stalled far too long. He waved the report at Tuesday’s press conference.

Now he’s in a head-to-head battle with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted as prime competitors for governor in two years. Husted has been rolling out press releases on a variety of topics. The common wisdom about the attorney general is the most dangerous place to be is between Yost and a television camera.

I have known Dave Yost, who for a while went by Davyd Yost, for more than 30 years. We were competitors at Columbus City Hall when I worked for the Columbus Dispatch and he reported for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, now defunct.

He was a good journalist, a fair to middling musician, and a fun guy to be around.

But then he got a law license, became a prosecutor, got MAGA-tized, and took a hard turn to the right.

He professes to be a Christian and opposes abortion.

This is where I cannot understand his thinking. If all life is sacred, as abortion opponents contend – and I agree – how can you favor taking the life of someone through execution? Either all life is sacred or it is not. There is no gray area.

Both Yost and Stewart danced around the sanctity of life question at the Statehouse press conference, seeking to contrast an “innocent life and a guilty life.”

Life is life. Imago dei. The image of Christ.

It would be wise (albeit unlikely) for Yost to heed the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackman, a Republican appointed by Richard Nixon.

In a famous dissent in a 1994 murder case before the Supreme Court, Blackman wrote:

“From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. I feel…obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies.”

It’s time to end, not extend the use of capital punishment in Ohio.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Letter to the Editor: Do Republicans Really Believe in Freedom and Liberty?

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

Dear Editor,

If rural Ohio Republicans were surveyed and asked if they believed in freedom and liberty for everyone, to the person they would say YES! However, words are cheap, and when we take a close look at Republican behavior and practices, we learn that they only believe in freedom and liberty for some people.

Most rural Ohioans voted for and currently support Donald Trump. They overwhelmingly voted for the disgraced ex-president in 2016 and 2020, and plan to do so again in 2024. Does Trump believe in freedom and liberty for everyone? Of course not. He routinely threatens people like me, calls for my arrest, and says that I should expelled from the country of my birth. Why? I have political and religious beliefs different from Trump and his MAGA followers. Evidently, freedom and liberty only apply to people who agree with Trump and the rhetoric of white Evangelical Christians. Everyone else is an enemy of God and state.

When local Republicans talk glowingly about their commitment to freedom and liberty, I don’t believe them. These same people are working diligently to undo the express will of the people as they try to neuter recently passed initiatives that legalize abortion and recreational cannabis. If Republicans truly believe in freedom and liberty, then they would accept the will of the people. Instead, both at state and local levels, Republicans are intent on forcing their moral beliefs on others.

Republicans want public school students to have freedom to attend release time programs such as Lifewise Academy — an Evangelical organization — yet when The Satanic Temple wants to sponsor a release time program, all of a sudden freedom only applies to Evangelical Christians. Everywhere we look, we see right-wing Republicans prosecuting the latest iteration of the culture war. For all their talk about freedom and liberty, Republicans deny that same right for everyone. Not for LGBTQ people, nor socialists, atheists, or humanists. Not for women seeking abortion care, nor people with moral beliefs different from the Christian majority.

I am in the minority when it comes to my political and religious beliefs. Even local Democrats distance themselves from me because I am a Democratic socialist, too liberal, or a godless heathen. That’s the price I pay for living in rural Ohio. That said, I demand and expect the same freedom and liberty as my Republican neighbors.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Republican Attorney General Dave Yost Continues to Hinder Fair Ohio Elections

dave yost
Ant-Democratic Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal

One might think that a movement associated with a former state Supreme Court chief justice could draft a petition summary that passes legal muster. But twice already, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has rejected summaries of a petition to put an anti-gerrymandering amendment on Ohio’s November 2024 ballot.

So far, nobody’s explicitly accusing Yost of deliberately slow-walking approval of the anti-gerrymandering amendment, but frustration is growing — and one advocate of redistricting reform pointed out that further delays can become critical quickly.  

“The slower this goes, there are increasingly serious consequences,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, which supports the amendment.

Ohio’s legislative and congressional districts are highly gerrymandered. While Donald Trump carried the state by less than eight percentage points in 2020, Republicans control 68% of seats in the state House, 78% in the state Senate and 66% of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Ohio voters apparently didn’t want things to be this way. In 2015 and 2018, redistricting amendments to curb extreme partisan gerrymandering in the legislature and Congress both passed with more than 70% of the vote.

But since the 2020 Census, seven sets of maps passed by the Republican-dominated Redistricting Commission have been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court. By effectively running out the clock, the districts rejected by the court are still in effect.

Former Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, voted with the court’s three Democrats to reject the GOP-drawn maps, until she was forced to retire because of her age in 2022. Now she’s working with the group Citizens Not Politicians to put another constitutional amendment on the ballot.

She says this one will close loopholes by creating a truly independent redistricting commission made of up of citizens that won’t place a partisan thumb on the scales. 

It would ban partisan gerrymanders and create a 15-member commission of Republicans, Democrats and independents to draw the lines. Current and former officeholders, lobbyists and large donors would be banned from sitting on it. 

Despite the claims made by GOP leaders during their August attempt to restrict citizen access to the process, voter-initiated amendments to the Ohio Constitution are anything but easy. 

First activists have to draft a proposed amendment and a summary of it, gather 1,000 signatures from registered voters and submit them to the attorney general. If the Ohio Attorney General approves the petition summary as accurate, then they have to gather more than 400,000 signatures from registered voters — with a percentage coming from each of 44 of the state’s 88 counties. 

And, because many signatures are typically disqualified, proponents try to gather hundreds of thousands more than the minimum. It’s an intensive, costly, time-sensitive process.

So far, Citizens Not Politicians has twice had its petition summaries rejected.

On Aug. 23, Attorney General Yost rejected the first summary, citing nine instances of “omissions and misstatements.” 

For example, the summary said that a bipartisan panel appointing commissioners would hire a professional search firm to “assist” it. But the proposed amendment says that the consulting firm would “solicit applications for commissioner, screen and provide information about applicants, check references, and otherwise facilitate the application review and applicant interview process.”

The summary was, well, too summary, Yost ruled.

“The summary thus diminishes the actual role of the search firm in the application process, by merely stating the search firm would ‘assist’ the panel,” the ruling said.

Then after listing specific shortcomings the attorney general found in the first summary, the letter made a statement that made it seem all but certain that a second attempt would fail as well.

“The above instances are just a few examples of the summary’s omissions and misstatements,” it said.

A spokeswoman for Yost didn’t respond when asked why the attorney general didn’t specify the other problems he found with the petition summary. She also didn’t respond to a question asking whether Yost, who is eyeing a run for governor, believes extreme partisan gerrymandering is a problem in the United States.

Citizens Not Politicians quickly gathered another 1,000 signatures and submitted a new summary. On Sept. 14, Yost rejected that as well, but this time he cited only one deficiency.

The summary didn’t explain that the proposed amendment lays out a specific method of determining the party affiliation of redistricting commission members, while the amendment would leave it to the GOP-controlled Ohio Ballot Board to determine the affiliations of members of the panel that would select those commissioners, Yost wrote.

“To be clear, a fair and truthful summary should articulate this distinction so that a signer can understand the Amendment’s true meaning and effect,” Yost’s letter said. “Otherwise, the summary misleads a signer into misbelieving that party affiliation is judged consistently and with the same objective criteria when it is not.”

Citizens Not Politicians submitted a third version of the summary language last Friday and Yost has until Oct. 2 to accept or reject it. The group was less than pleased with the latest ruling.

“We are disappointed and frustrated that the Attorney General has chosen to reject our petition summary for a second time,” its spokesman, Chris Davey, said in a statement. “We adjusted our summary language as the Attorney General requested on the first submission, and we know our summary language was accurate.”

Advocates of the gerrymandering amendment might seem like they have a long time to get their ducks in a row, but time can grow short quickly and delays can be disastrous for them.

It’s not perfectly analogous, but Yost played a role in another delay — one that helped kill an attempt to repeal the corruptly passed House Bill 6. That’s the bribery scheme in which Akron-based FirstEnergy paid more than $60 million and got a $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout in return. Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, is now serving a 20-year prison term for his role in the scandal, but somehow, HB 6 remains on the books

The law was so objectionable that as soon as it passed in 2019, a strong effort at a voter-initiated repeal was announced. 

Leaders of the attempted repeal had 90 days after the law’s enrollment to gather at least as many valid signatures as 6% of the number who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election — about 265,000 in 2019. But first, they had to submit a summary of the ballot language along with 1,000 valid signatures for review by the attorney general and the Ballot Board.

Yost rejected the first summary that was submitted and by the time a second was approved — along with another batch of 1,000 signatures — the repeal team had only 54 days left of the original 90 to submit more than a quarter-million valid signatures.

With 40% of the clock expired — and with FirstEnergy spending more than $30 million on a brutal, dishonest campaign to thwart the repeal — time ran out before circulators could gather enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

The timetable for the anti-gerrymandering isn’t nearly that compressed, but each passing week is crucial, Turcer, of Common Cause Ohio, said. 

“It could be that this is standard operating procedure,” she said of the two rejections so far. “But it could slow things down so much that they can’t collect signatures during early voting and Election Day.”

She was referring to Nov. 7, when a closely watched abortion rights amendment is expected to draw many Ohioians to the polls. In-person early voting starts Oct. 11 — just 22 days away.

Turcer explained that early voting and Election Day are important for petition circulators because that’s when registered voters — the group eligible to sign petitions — are gathered at county boards of election during early voting and at polling places on Election Day. 

Assuming Yost approves the summary language on Oct. 2, it still has to be approved by the Ballot Board and petition forms need to be printed.

“Citizen initiatives are incredibly challenging,” Turcer said. “But they’re much harder if you have a compressed time period.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Dear Ohio Republicans: Just Admit It, You Overplayed Your Hand and Lost

whining

Did you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from Ohio today? Oh my, Republicans are stumbling all over themselves trying to explain how Ohio voters turned down Issue 1 by a 3-2 margin.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser tried to gaslight Ohioans by suggesting that others are to blame for the defeat of Issue 1:

Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state. Tragically, some sat on the sideline while outsider liberal groups poured millions into Ohio. A broad coalition of passionate pro-life Ohioans came together to fight parental rights opponents and try to take victory from the jaws of defeat. But the silence of the establishment and business community in Ohio left a vacuum too large to overcome.

Attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left. That is why everyone must take this threat seriously and recognize progressives will win if their opponents are scared into submission by the pro-abortion Left.

So long as the Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again.

As you can see, Dannenfelser blames everyone but herself. Further, she outright lies when she says “Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state.” True in the sense that millions of dollars of outside money supported the Vote No on Issue 1 cause. What she neglects to say is that Vote Yes on Issue 1 received even more outside money.

The Ohio Capital Journal reported:

Roughly $35 million has flowed to political groups aiming to influence Ohio’s August special election. That includes money for campaigns for or against the ballot measure raising the threshold for constitutional amendments, as well as several closely aligned organizations.

On both sides — those opposing Issue 1, those supporting it, and those technically fighting November’s reproductive rights amendment — the vast majority of funding came from out of state.

The campaigns

Issue 1’s proponents have consistently argued a higher threshold for passing state constitutional amendments will act as a deterrent.

“This is about empowering the people of Ohio to protect their constitution from out of state special interests that want to try to buy their way into our state’s founding document,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose insisted in a televised statewide debate last week. “I’m here to say the Ohio constitution is not for sale.”

Opponents have repeatedly argued back that nothing in the proposal actually limits out-of-state influence.

The yes campaign committee, Protect Our Constitution, raised a little more than $4.85 million according to its filing. Nearly all of it came from a single individual who lives out of state.

Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein donated a total of $4 million to the committee. The right-wing megadonor owns the Uline shipping and office supply company, and his grandfather and great-grandfather ran Schlitz brewing.

The largest contributions aside from Uihlein were $100,000 each from a PAC solely funded by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and another connected with Ohio nursing homes. Other substantial contributions came in from Washington, D.C., Georgia and Tennessee. But less than $700,000, or just 14% of the total, came from Ohio donors.

Issue 1’s opponents are fundraising through a committee called One Person One Vote. The campaign raised a total of $14.8 million, about 16% of it coming from Ohio donors.

The filing doesn’t show anyone giving quite as much as Uihlein did in terms of dollar amount or percentage of the total. Still, the campaign did attract some pretty big fish. Karla Jurvetson, a Silicon Valley psychiatrist and philanthropist, cut checks totaling about $1.1 million.

One Person One Vote also got contributions of $1 million or more from liberal groups including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, among the largest left-leaning dark money groups, the Tides Foundation, Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association.

Alongside its filing, One Person One vote put out a statement describing their pride for “the enormous bipartisan coalition that has come together to defeat Issue 1.”

The (not quite the campaign) campaigns

Although One Person One Vote outraised Protect Our Constitution more than three-to-one, the ‘yes’ campaign was never just one committee. In all, there are four “Protect” organizations including Protect Women Ohio, Protect Women Ohio Action and Protect Our Kids Ohio.

Taken together, they give the yes side of the campaign a financial advantage.

These organizations are chiefly concerned with defeating the reproductive rights amendment that will be on the ballot this November. But because Issue 1 will raise the threshold for that November vote, they’re also deeply invested in its approval.

The first televised ads in favor of Issue 1? Those were paid for by Protect Women Ohio — not Protect our Constitution. Around the state, anti-abortion activists are making explicit appeals for Issue 1 based on undermining the reproductive rights amendment. Seth Drayer, the Vice President for Created Equal, recently warned the Delaware City Republican Club about a 2022 abortion amendment that passed in Michigan with 56% of the vote.

“If we move to 60% they’re not going to win in Ohio,” he said. “If we win August, we win November. It’s really about that simple.”

And like Protect Our Constitution, these allied groups are getting the vast majority of their funding from out of state.

Protect Women Ohio Action is actually a 501(c)(4) based in Virginia. Five million of its $5.2 million bankroll comes from The Concord Fund, a Washington D.C. based 501(c)(4) known publicly as the Judicial Crisis Network that spends heavily in favor of conservative judges. The other $200,000 comes from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The organization’s president is Protect Women Ohio Action’s sole board member.

Among Protect Women Ohio’s contributions is a $2 million check from Protect Women Ohio Action reported the same day The Concord Fund made a $2 million donation to the latter.

Of the groups pushing for Issue 1, Protect Women Ohio has by far the biggest piggy bank. But more than $6 million of that $9.7 million total comes from Susan B. Anthony. The only other substantial donations came from the Catholic Church. The Columbus and Cleveland Dioceses gave $200,000 each and the Cincinnati Archdiocese gave $500,000. In all, Protect Women Ohio raised about 16.3% of contributions in-state. The three donations from the Catholic Church make up more than half of that.

The Ohio Capital Journal by Nick Evans

President Joe Biden had this to say about Issue 1:

Today, Ohio voters rejected an effort by Republican lawmakers and special interests to change the state’s constitutional amendment process. This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own healthcare decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.

Biden rightly understood that this was a power grab by Ohio Republicans. They don’t want voters looking over their shoulders, daring to smack their hands when they overstep and ignore the will of everyday Ohioans. That’s what happens when you have a super-majority and control every major state office. The defeat of Issue 1 was Ohio voters saying to legislators that “we the people” have the final say. Hopefully, Ohioans will take the next step and vote deaf and blind Republicans out of office. They have largely stopped listening or seeing the commoners among them, so the only thing that will get their attention is to send them packing.

Ohioans rightly understood that this August special election was all about November’s vote on legalizing abortion. In 2022, eight percent of voters turned out for an August election. Afterward, Republicans did away with August elections, only to ignore this and hold a special election. Yesterday, forty percent of registered voters voted — a five-hundred percent increase in turnout. Take that Republicans, and come November’s election, a record voter turnout will lead to the approval of the reproductive rights amendment. Further, it looks like marijuana legalization will be on the ballot too. I guarantee you, more than fifty percent of voters want cannabis legalized.

The November vote will likely be a day of woe for Ohio Republicans. Supposedly, they are the party of “freedom.” Welp, this is what FREEDOM looks like. Don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. Don’t want to smoke marijuana, don’t take a toke. It’s really that simple.

I predict that Republicans will turn to the courts to stop the November reproductive rights amendment. Hopefully, their challenges will be rebuffed and Ohioans will have the final say on abortion.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Letter to the Editor: Vote No on Issue One and Yes on the Reproductive Rights Amendment

letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

On August 8, 2023, Ohio voters will have the opportunity to vote no on Issue One; to turn back a Republican attempt to keep a simple majority of citizens from successfully exercising their right to overturn and invalidate egregious laws or amend the Ohio Constitution. We must not let this happen. That aside, we must not lose sight of why Republicans are so desperate to pass Issue One next month. One word: abortion.

In November, voters will have the opportunity to pass the Reproductive Rights Amendment. The passage of this amendment will legalize abortion in Ohio and put an end to Evangelical and conservative Catholic attempts to abolish and criminalize abortion. Left to their own devices, God’s Only Party will criminalize abortion, take away exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, and ban certain forms of birth control. In other words, Republicans want to force women to give birth regardless of their circumstances.

700,000 signatures were collected to put the Reproductive Rights Amendment on the November ballot. 700,000! Republicans know that this number alone is a sign that the amendment will pass. So, using Issue One, they want to change the percentage of votes for passage from fifty percent to sixty percent. This ten percent swing could be enough to defeat the Reproductive Rights Amendment.

Forced birthers are primarily motivated by their religious beliefs. Most of them vote Republican. All of us have a right to believe whatever we want about God and life. However, we don’t have the right to force our religious views on others. Whether to have an abortion is a personal decision. If conservative Christians don’t want to get an abortion, fine, they don’t have to get one. End of discussion. However, other women may believe differently. Should they not have the right to make medical decisions for themselves? Republicans have no business getting in between a pregnant woman and her doctor.

If Ohioans who support the reproductive rights of women and think majority rule is sacrosanct turn out and vote, we will turn back the latest attempt by Ohio Republicans to force their religious beliefs on all of us. We will let them know that we have no intention of giving up the power to turn back egregious laws passed by legislators who are out of touch with everyday Ohioans.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Ohio Republicans Marginalize and Demonize Transgender People

gay pride flag

By Marilou Johanek, Ohio Capital Journal, Used by Permission

The right to exist is being erased for transgender kids and adults. You know it. There is always another bill or law being passed in dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures, including Ohio’s, targeting the transgender community. It’s a vulnerable community. No match for the aggressive national campaign launched against it by the GOP and an unholy army of fanatical Christian haters. 

Trans-Americans are being nullified as people ahead of 2024 to stick it to the “woke left” and ensure right-wing evangelicals vote Republican. A political wedge used to win elections by pulverizing a population of nonconformists into nothingness. Calculated cruelty to destroy lives for power.   

Transgender adolescents are most at-risk of being rubbed out by the unsparing hostility of anti-trans rhetoric and lawmaking. They’ve been made to feel like a freak show, aberrations to be pushed into the shadows, and potentially suicide just to score cheap political points. It is so wrong and so unchristian.

But the Republican abuse heaped on trans youth, already stigmatized and mistreated, is unrelenting. Right-wingers have unleashed a torrent of unjustified bills to purge the trans community from public life. It is hateful, hollow legislating to curb the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of LGBTQ+ people. 

When the messaging by high-profile Republicans day in and day out is that those people are ungodly deviants destroying all that’s right and wholesome, hate crimes follow. Violence answers the toxic attacks against a group portrayed as perverts. Their freedom to live the way they choose must be stopped.

Last week, Ohio House Republicans passed a slate of bans and restrictions on trans sports, medical care, and speech. The legislation doesn’t solve any pressing problem in Ohio or respond to any pressing constituent ultimatum for change. 

Mainstream Ohio is consumed with real problems like the economy, affordable housing, and day care, not with banning trans girls from female sports or blocking parents from providing medical care for their trans kid. There is no public outcry for pre-clearance of LGBTQ topics in school classrooms or for teachers to out their students. 

That’s mean and muzzling. Who would go out of their way to harm transgender youngsters who are just trying to survive? Not a majority of Americans. But a vocal minority of far-right politicians and religious zealots is on crusade to crush young lives without mercy.   

Theirs is a politically expedient partnership, deceptively cloaked in concern for children, girls sports, and parental rights. It is an ugly charade with real-life consequences. A record number of statehouse bills nationwide have been submitted this year (560 and counting).

They are uniformly steeped in misinformation and disinformation to scare people who don’t know any trans or queer people. It’s a coordinated enterprise to scapegoat a group of human beings into oblivion with a thousand legislative cuts.

The Christian right movement is on a heartless mission, aided and abetted by state and federal Republicans, to cancel trans people entirely: Laws must be enacted to erase the transgender footprint until it is gone. Ruthless edicts must purify a morally homogeneous culture of undesirables.

We are on a dark road. History has gone there before. In Nazi Germany groups of people deemed incompatible with regime purists disappeared. Isolated. Demonized. Gone. For the good of the master race. 

A speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference told the crowd, “For the good of society…transgenderism must be eradicated.” An open call for the annihilation of human beings who happen to be trans. People applauded. It wasn’t them being torn down. 

That’s how it starts. The moral connectedness that holds humanity together breaks apart. Suddenly some people are not deserving of care and compassion. Like those instinctively disliked or dismissed as different. Anyone in another tribe. The marginalized. Not your concern.

They can be bludgeoned by unjust laws or dehumanizing oppression. Persecuted for existing. As a transgender child. As a Jew. “We preferred to keep silent,” wrote an anguished German pastor in 1946. “All of that was not our affair” — the persecutions of fellow Germans, the purges of neighbors and friends, the camps, the deaths. In his powerful postwar confession of unforgivable passivity and indifference, Martin Niemoller spoke for the ages.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I am not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

Then they came for trans youth. With Ohio House Bills 68 [introduced by infamous IFB pastor and transphobe Gary Click] and HB 8 [Gary Click is a cosponsor of this bill]. One bans trans athletes and trans medical care for minors. The other is a political dog whistle (modeled after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill) with vague curriculum censorship and mandates for outing students to their parents who question their gender identity. 

The anti-trans narrative is the Ohio Senate now. The cost of not speaking out is life itself. 

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Ohio Republicans Continue to Viciously Assault LGBTQ People

christians attack lgbt people

By David DeWitt, Ohio Capital Journal Editor-in-Chief and Columnist

Happy Pride Month, Ohio, where LGBTQ+ people are under constant assault by bully Republican lawmakers who are weirdly obsessed with our community, especially the transgender members of it.

Transgender people — especially transgender people of color — have been leading the activist charge toward LGBTQ+ human rights and equality since the beginning, literally throwing the first punches at the Stonewall riots.

They are the icons of our human rights movement that every LGBTQ+ person ought to know: Sylvia Rivera. Marsha P. Johnson. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Stormé DeLarverie.

And since the beginning, transgender people have been the most victimized. They remain so, and Ohio Republicans have devised numerous abhorrent ways to target and victimize them further.

Extremist right-wing lawmakers have introduced bills to ban transgender kids from participating in athletics that align with their gender identity, to ban gender-affirming health care for trans youth, and to ban trans youth in schools and colleges from using bathrooms that align with their gender identities.

Probably what I find most obnoxious about all of this is that these are politicians who have virtually no experience with the LGBTQ+ community, who have expressed no interest in understanding LGBTQ+ people, who have no comprehension of the day-to-day lived experience of LGBTQ+ Americans, who have no expertise whatsoever in the broad scientific, mental health, and medical consensus on care when it comes to LGBTQ+ lives, and who show absolutely no interest in doing anything to help LGBTQ+ people legally, medically, or politically.

Yet they claim to somehow be the ones who “care” and are out to “save” LGBTQ+ people, by committing rampant harm and torment on our families in every way they can imagine.

It’s a very creepy and disturbing fixation they’ve revealed within themselves. The legislative sponsor of various attacks on transgender people, Vickery Republican state Rep. Gary Click, is a pastor who inexplicably and absurdly claims he has no religious motive, despite Click defending conversion therapy and suggesting that homosexuality and the idea that one can be trans are pushed by Satan in order to undermine the family.

Click even made an appearance celebrating his anti-trans attack with Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a right-wing religious fanatic organization that is labeled as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Parents of LGBTQ+ youth, medical professionals who provide LGBTQ+ health care, and advocates who have dedicated their lives to saving LGBTQ+ lives, all stand opposed to these bills.

Only six transgender girls play sports in Ohio, out of 1.5 million public school K-12 students. Both the Ohio High School Athletic Association and NCAA have rules around transgender participation that are well-established and based on a wide variety of expert advice and research.

Gender-affirming care is supported by every major medical organization in the United States. A study released last year found that gender-affirming care for youth was linked to 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality.

There is no evidence that letting transgender people use public facilities that align with their gender identity increases safety risks, but there is ample evidence that forcing transgender people to use bathrooms that do not align with their gender identity increases risk of assault against transgender people.

The Trevor Project found in a 2021 poll that anti-trans legislation led to 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth reporting negative impacts on their mental health.

Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary young people attempted suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project’s 2023 survey of mental health of LGBTQ+ youth.

A 2022 survey from The Trevor Project found that 45% of LGBTQ+ youth across the country seriously considered suicide that year, while 14% actually attempted it.

In 2021, the Human Rights Campaign tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people. These are people’s children and family members and friends whose last moments alive were suffered under the wicked violence of hate.

LGBTQ+ safe spaces and celebrations have been targeted with threats or acts of violence, including masked Nazis showing up with semi-automatic rifles to a drag show at Land Grant in Columbus in April.

Nazis have a history of victimizing transgender and gender non-conforming people first.

The world’s first trans clinic, the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin, was one of the first victims of German Nazi targeting in 1933, when it’s clinic was shut down, administrators and doctors were forced to flee the country, and 20,000 books — including every bit of then-established transgender science and research — were set aflame in a public bonfire.

In America today, a new staggering rise in violence against LGBTQ+ people directly mirrors the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and lawmaking among right-wing politicians, pundits, and loser internet trolls.

As of April of this year, at least 417 anti-LGBTQ+ bills had been introduced in state legislatures across the United States since January, a new record surpassing last year’s record.

Why are they doing all of this?

Radical reactionary politics. Heartless politicians seeking to roll back and destroy human and civil rights for their own political gain. To drive a wedge. To take advantage of a political moment to victimize others.

Theirs is a campaign of fear, hate, and intimidation, meant to dismantle 50 years of progress, meant to “other” us, as though we weren’t people’s daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and cherished friends, wholly deserving of dignity, tolerance, and our fully protected human and civil rights.

As the larger community has gained widespread acceptance, many Americans will still tolerate victimization of our transgender sisters and brothers, even though a majority favors protecting trans people from discrimination. Even within our community, a disturbing level of transphobia sometimes exists among cisgender gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.

And that probably breaks my heart the most. I expect nothing from small-minded, hateful bigots and cretins who live their lives in fear and intolerance, but I do expect the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to stand together in strength, love, and acceptance against them, especially at such a critical moment. This is a perfect month for us all to recommit ourselves to that.

This past Sunday, I attended a drag brunch in Columbus hosted by the always hilarious and inimitable Virginia West. We had a small crowd for the holiday weekend, but it included members of our community of all types, cheering, clapping, singing, and laughing so, so much.

We had straight people, gay people, lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, asexuals, and one beautiful family celebrating a mother’s birthday who raised two transgender children to be fun, confident, happy adults. Their straight, cisgender father was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Drag is Not a Crime.”

Sitting only a couple tables away, a wide smile spread across my cheeks as I observed this delightful family living in love and laughter and acceptance and joy with each other.

That is what this is all about, I thought. That is what our community is all about. That is what life — and living life well — is all about: Honor, decency, honesty, compassion, laughter, joy, acceptance, and living with love, tolerance, and understanding in our hearts. That is the LGBTQ+ community — and all communities — at our best.

How dare these voices of hate and intolerance assault that? These fringe zealots who want to dictate their dogma on everyone are not only un-American, they’re wildly ignorant of the fact that so many families of all types live in beautiful harmony. But the intolerant want only one way: their way. It’s a mean, narrow, base conceit.

These lawmakers who live with such contempt, such loathing, such a lack of empathy, and such bottomless cruelty for anyone who doesn’t live as they say everyone must live, are defiling both themselves and their positions of public trust. They are the shame of Ohio, deserving of nothing but mocking disdain.

As ever, America, we have a constant choice: Between tolerance or intolerance, courage or fear, kindness or cruelty, love or hate. It’s an easy choice.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Letter to the Editor: Fear, the Tool Used by Republicans to Advance Their Political, Religious, and Cultural Agenda

letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News

Dear Editor,

What drives the Republican Party? What is the singular tool used by Republican politicians to raise money and drive voters to the polls? One word: fear. Spend time listening to Donald Trump, Fox News, ONN, and NewsMax, and you will quickly learn that fear is the fuel that drives the right-wing engine.

Fear the Mexicans. Fear the Blacks. Fear LGBTQ people. Fear the atheists. Fear the secularists. Fear the Democrats. Fear the socialists. Fear Black Lives Matter. Fear ANTIFA. Fear China. Every night, right-wing media serves up that day’s boogeyman that must be feared; that must be slain by voting for the “right” kind of people; right meaning white, libertarian, heterosexual Christian politicians.

Republicans are not stupid. They know that their days are numbered. The United States is becoming browner and less religious by the day. It won’t be long before Whites are a minority race. It won’t be long before the nonreligious outnumber the largest American sect, evangelicalism. There’s coming a day when the eighty million people who don’t vote — many of whom are younger adults with progressive values — realize that they can effect immediate change by voting; that they have the power to put an end to the rule of anti-democratic, misogynistic, racist, and bigoted politicians.

Until that day comes, we must continue to combat Republican fearmongering with facts, passionate protests, and political activism. Unlike Republicans, we must not turn to violence to advance our cause. This battle is one that will be won with words and votes. We must not give in to fear, even when it seems there is no hope in sight.

Ohioans will have an opportunity in November to put an end to the immoral Republican war on women’s reproductive rights. Right now, signatures are being gathered to put this issue on the ballot. If you care about reproductive rights, access to abortion, and birth control, please sign one of the petitions that are circulating in our area. Don’t leave it for someone else to do.

I realize the Ohio Democratic Party has largely been ineffective and out of touch with Ohio voters. On the local level, I know the Party is dominated by old people; people who are often out of touch with younger voters. As an aged Democrat, I know we must do better to attract and engage younger voters, many of whom have progressive ideals. If we don’t, Republicans win.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser