Don’t Touch Your Ballot Without It: A Deeper Dive into our 2020 Elected Official Scorecard

Our 2020 Elected Official Scorecard is ready to help you prepare to vote this November! It grades current members of the Ohio General Assembly, as well as candidates for President and Vice President. Democratic nominees, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris earned a B and an A, respectively, while both President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence earned Fs. Grades for members of the Ohio Legislature, though, varied widely, with grades for Republicans ranging from A+ to F and those for Democrats ranging from A+ to B.

This blog will dive a little deeper into those grades and will touch on some of the highlights of the scorecard.

No candidate for office has a flawless record on LGBTQ+ issues. Equality Ohio is a nonpartisan organization, and we believe firmly in meeting elected leaders where they are in their journey to becoming champions of LGBTQ+ equality—journeys that we all are continuously on, whether that would earn us an F or an A+ on a scorecard. This is the approach that we took in grading candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency, as well as the incumbent legislators below.

Presidential Tickets

In our first foray into the world of national-level politics, we graded candidates for President and Vice-President in our Scorecard. We believe that the grades earned by all candidates were fair to their record and reflected their stated priorities as they look to the positions for which they are running. 

As you can see from first glance, there’s one ticket that is far and away better on LGBTQ+ issues than the other. The Democratic ticket, featuring Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, is the strongest pro-LGBTQ+ major party ticket in modern history, while the Republican ticket with incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, is quite possibly the worst. 

The Biden/Harris campaign has been very intentional about its outreach to LGBTQ+ people, both here in Ohio and across the country. Even though we could not award Vice President Biden the highest possible grade due to votes that he took early in his career, he and Senator Harris have highlighted LGBTQ+ issues in their campaign. Senator Harris also has shown significant support of the LGBTQ+ community throughout her career.

Even since the publication of the scorecard, the Trump administration has continued to attack transgender Americans, most recently with the revocation of the Equal Access Rule, which has provided access to shelters for transgender Americans struggling with homelessness. The Trump administration treats LGBTQ+ people with reckless abandon and seems to always be willing to sacrifice LGBTQ+ people as collateral damage in their political battles.

State Legislators

State legislators were graded based on what they did or said in the past two years since our last scorecard. In the state legislator section, you’ll see a chart that has the bills each member was on and their public statement score from -2 to +2. 

Although there isn’t space to go through every grade in this blog, I do want to give you some highlights. We have had more co-sponsors on the Ohio Fairness Act than ever before. We have bipartisan support on the Ohio Fairness Act in both the House and the Senate and on the House bill to protect youth against the harms of conversion therapy. 

Ohio House of Representatives Grade Comparison

Ohio Senate Grade Comparison

We put these charts together to show just how much improvement there has been in the grades of our Ohio legislators overall. As you can see, the number of A-range grades in the Ohio House almost tripled, and that number in the Senate more than doubled. Many of these new A-range grades came from those who scored in the B-range in the last scorecard for not being vocal enough in their support of their LGBTQ+ constituents, but who have increased their engagement and support in the most recent General Assembly.

As you may remember, in our 2018 Scorecard, one of the major difficulties was the lack of data in the Senate, with 20 Senators expressing no opinion on any of our priority pieces of legislation and receiving Cs. Although there are still many legislators who refuse to comment publicly on our issues, that number in the Senate did decrease to 16 as we continue to convince our elected leaders that equality is not an issue on which they can remain neutral.

These trends in grade changes in the Ohio Legislature are directly due to our work to change hearts and minds at the Statehouse and speaks to the huge amount of momentum we have in support of the Ohio Fairness Act.

As you can see from the scorecard, LGBTQ+ equality is not a partisan issue, and the broad, cross-partisan coalition at the Statehouse working to pass the Ohio Fairness Act is growing every day. In our Scorecard release event, Ohio’s Secretary of State and former Ohio Fairness Act sponsor, Frank LaRose illustrated this change quite simply. He said,

“I remember when I first introduced the Ohio Fairness Act. People said it was the end of my career as a Republican and that I would never win elected office again. Well, we proved them wrong. You can stand for equality and for what’s right and still hold fast to the beliefs you have.”

The time for LGBTQ+ equality in Ohio is now. Democrats support it. Republicans support it. Businesses support it. Unions support it. And most importantly, the people of Ohio support it. We hope you will join us as we work to get it across the finish line this year. Sign up to volunteer today at: https://equalityohio.org/get-involved/volunteer/

Equality Ohio’s 2020 Elected Official Scorecard is available in digital form at www.equalityohio.org/scorecard and for purchase in hard copy form at https://shop.equalityohio.org/products/ohio-elected-official-scorecard-2020-lgbtq-issues.