COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed David Pepper for Ohio attorney general, marking just the second time ever that the national LGBT civil rights group has weighed in on a state-level non-gubernatorial race.
The clincher, according to HRC: incumbent Mike DeWine’s ongoing battle against a dead gay man from Cincinnati who won a federal court ruling last year to have his out-of-state marriage noted on his death certificate.
Pepper, a former Cincinnati City Council member and Hamilton County commissioner, said in an interview Friday in the June issue of Outlook that if he’s elected on Nov. 4, he will drop Ohio’s appeal of two federal court rulings recognizing same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where they’re legal.
The Democrat also told Outlook that he would not defend a 2004 constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples in a third lawsuit that seeks to overturn the ban.
He calls DeWine, a Republican elected in 2010, an extremist on the issue of LGBT civil rights.
The HRC endorsed Democrat Mark Herring last year in a race for attorney general of Virginia. He won and immediately stopped defending Virginia’s marriage ban in federal court.
“It is critically important that those who are elected to defend the laws of the state of Ohio understand that the law must be applied equally and fairly and that those laws must be constitutional. David Pepper clearly believes this and we are pleased to stand with him in his fight to win in November,” HRC Field Director Marty Rouse said in a statement issued by the Pepper campaign.
Pepper supports marriage equality but has said he would stop defending the ban not because of his personal beliefs but because courts have ruled them unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down California’s ban in June 2013.