The Ohio Republican candidate for U.S. Senate is trumpeting his opposition to same-sex marriage as he makes his appeal to the social conservative base in his state.
According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, Josh Mandel, the Ohio state treasurer who’s seeking to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), told a crowd at a Tea Party rally on Tuesday night he’s fighting the incumbent senator on expanding same-sex marriage.
Mandel was quoted as saying he’ll “protect the sanctity of marriage” and “this is a fight that I will never, ever back down.”
The candidate’s remarks were reportedly at Cincinnati’s Sharonville Convention Center before around 300 people who were mostly white and middle-aged.
According to the Inquirer, Mandel also talked about responsible use of domestic natural resources, such natural gas beneath Ohio land; reduced government spending; and job creation primarily by lowering taxes. Joining him at the rally was Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Tea Party favorite who unseated Republican former Sen. Bob Bennett.
The Brown campaign shot back at Mandel by saying his remarks demonstrate he’s against equal rights for Ohio families.
“Josh Mandel’s vow to continue fighting against equal rights is a slap in the face to Ohio families,” said Sadie Weiner, a Friends of Sherrod Brown spokesperson. “LGBT Ohioans face discrimination and intimidation for their sexual orientation every day. Unfortunately, Josh Mandel’s position only adds fuel to the fire.”
Brown, who began serving in the Senate in 2007, is a supporter of same-sex marriage. He was among the 22 senators who responded affirmatively in response to a Washington Blade inquiry on backing a marriage equality plank in the Democratic Party platform. As a senator, Brown voted for hate crimes protection legislation and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
Mandel was once supportive of LGBT rights, but has since retracted that support. In 2000, while serving as student president at Ohio State University, he supported a plan to allow students to buy student health insurance covering their domestic partners, reportedly saying “Students want it, students deserve it, and the university has a responsibility to provide it.”
That changed when Mandel began advancing his political career. As an Ohio state House member, Mandel voted against legislation that would protect gay Ohioans against discrimination in the workforce. In July 2011, Polifact reported Anthony Conchel, Mandel’s campaign manager, as saying Mandel feels “he was wrong” to support those benefits.
“Josh has always opposed discrimination against any American citizen and has also always believed that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Conchel was quoted as saying. “He also feels he was wrong in college about domestic partner benefits and feels strongly that they should never be funded with taxpayer dollars.”