You Got Served (and Protected)

Written by | Gay Voices, The Lens

Payback is a b-word. When Charmaine McGuffey worked in the Hamilton County Ohio Sheriff’s Department, she faced discrimination on a daily basis. Her boss, Jim Neil, oversaw a team of toxic, straight law enforcers, according to Charmaine. She filed a lawsuit to defend against the sheriff’s constant homophobic harassment, and she was punished for her advocacy.

In 2017, Charmaine was demoted… but that was just the beginning of her fight.

Pivoting from her passion for public service to a foray into politics, Charmaine ran to become the sheriff of Hamilton County. It would be fierce fight, since no woman had ever earned this title, not to mention Charmaine was unapologetically, openly, fabulously gay.

But every uphill battle begins by conquering the foothills. The first opponent she would face would be her former boss, Jim Neil. After being spotted at a Trump rally in full uniform, Neil was shunned by his Democratic voters.

Charmaine trounced him in the primary, winning with 70% of the vote.

She was poised to make history; the only obstacle in Charmaine’s way was Republican challenger Bruce Hoffbauer. It was a race between inclusion and division. Charmaine decried Hoffbauer’s abrasive approach to law enforcement, particularly as it regarded peaceful protesters. During recent skirmishes, Hoffbauer had expressed hostility towards civilians exercising their right to free speech. It was a forcefulness that Charmaine recognized all too well. Past supervisors had derided her for her sexual orientation, but she would not allow it to happen again.

Charmaine’s campaign countered Hoffbauer’s enmity toward protesters with a more accepting, understanding tone. In the end, love defeated hate and Charmaine defeated Hoffbauer 52% to 47%.

The discrimination lawsuit Charmaine McGuffey filed against her former boss is still pending in federal court, but now she has to attend to justice for the Hamilton County constituents who just elected her.

Congratulations, Charmaine… or should we say Sheriff McGuffey? You have the right to remain spectacular!

Photo: Instagram @charmainemcguffey

Last modified: November 9, 2020