Gay community celebrates first openly gay candidate coming to Cincinnati City Council

Chris Seelbach
Chris Seelbach

OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - It wasn't that long ago that Chris Seelbach was working day and night to repeal Article 12, which refused to protect people from being discriminated against in the city of Cincinnati, because of their sexual orientation.  Now, Seelbach has been elected to Cincinnati City Council.

The turnaround is not lost on him. "Arguably Cincinnati was the most anti-gay city up until 2004 when we spent 2 years going door to door having conversations with people on their doorstep and as a result we repealed the anti-gay law, so it feels great that we're sending another clear message that this is a place that no matter who you love or who you are, you're welcome here," he said.

As word of Seelbach's election spread Tuesday night, social media lit up.  Tweets spread like wildfire, and well beyond Cincinnati, as national organizations took notice and celebrated.

The Washington, D.C. based group, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, supports gay candidates across the country.  Wednesday, they released this statement, "This is a remarkable victory not only for Chris and Cincinnati, but also for fairness and for progress.  Gays and lesbians have long been excluded from leadership roles in civic life, and their voices have not been heard.  For Cincinnati, that changed last night and we could not be more proud of our role in Chris' groundbreaking campaign."

Locally, Jeff Caywood of the Human Rights Campaign of Greater Cincinnati released this statement, "All of us at the Human Rights Campaign of Greater Cincinnati congratulate Chris and celebrate his victory. The days of Article XII that told lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are unwelcome in the Queen City are over. However, this victory is bigger than the LGBT community. Chris' passion for Cincinnati and commitment to our region will bring a fresh perspective to City Council. Chris is a long-time supporter and former volunteer leader of HRC, and we look forward to continue working with him."

Seelbach is slowly getting used to his new role as role model.  It's a job he doesn't take lightly.

"My best day on this campaign was when a high school teacher emailed me and said that one of his students had volunteered and this student had never had someone to look up to because this student was gay and if I can create that kind of leadership role where kids say it doesn't matter who I am, if I work hard and treat others with respect I can achieve my goals so if that is part of what I'm doing, it feels really good."

Ultimately, though, Seelbach says he did not seek office to make history.  He wants to get to work.

"I'm running because we lost ten percent of our population. And we're focused on daily arguments on pools and rec centers and police jobs and we're not talking about the big picture, which is how do we make our city a place where more people want to live?"

He'll be sworn in with his fellow council members December 1st.

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