The Derek Merrin & Wes Goodman photo the Center for Christian Virtue doesn't want you to see
Speaker-Elect Derek Merrin and disgraced State Rep. Wes Goodman were photographed sharing an intimate moment in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Ohio House Speaker-elect Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township) is a stone-cold geeky freak in every sense of the phrase.
Merrin, thanks to generational wealth, is a 36-year-old “real estate investor” (read: landlord) that once tried to make it easier for his colleagues to poison children with lead paint in rental homes.
He has been accused of calling Mexicans “dangerous people” and voted to keep then-State Rep. Larry Householder in the Ohio House after the Perry County Representative’s arrest on RICO charges and subsequent re-election to the Legislature.
Like every other state legislative Republican, Merrin has used his position of power to attack LGTBQIA+ people, like when he tried to get inclusive language stricken from an adoption bill.
Later on Thursday, the Ohio Capital Journal obtained the budget amendment requests. Two Republican state representatives in particular asked that budget drafters strike the “legally married couple” reference and reinsert “husband and wife” — Reps. Reggie Stoltzfus, R-Paris Twp., and Derek Merrin, R-Monclova.
Or the time earlier this year when he attended a Christian fascist boot camp to nationally streamline attacks on LGTBQIA+ people.
Five Statesmen Academy alumni—Reps. Derek Merrin and Jena Powell of Ohio, Rep. Sara Walsh of Missouri, Rep. Scott Allen of Wisconsin, and Sen. Jeff Raatz of Indiana—sponsored or co-sponsored anti-trans health care bans in 2022, along with other legislation seeking to limit abortion access and LGBTQ rights.
These kinds of views make you an ostracized weirdo in polite society. In Ohio, they make you the next Speaker of the Ohio House.
Merrin, who was appointed to his seat in 2018 and is as reviled as anyone in the Statehouse this side of State Senator Niraj Antani (R-Sewer), was originally seen as a distant third-place candidate entering the race to replace State Rep. Bob Cupp (R-Lima) as Speaker.
However, when neither favorite Rep. Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) nor Rep. Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) earned a majority of their caucus’ votes, Plummer threw in with Merrin to deny Stephens a six-year Speaker term—much to the unbridled joy of the Ohio Center for Christian Virtue, an influential, right-wing, theocratic lobbying group whose new headquarters symbolically overlook the Statehouse.
From Jeremy Pelzer of cleveland.com on Nov. 23:
One of the first signs that Merrin won the Republican caucus vote, conducted behind closed doors in a Statehouse committee room, was when Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue, ran into the hallway shouting with joy.
“CCV,” as their colloquially known, is at the tip of the spear on the attack against LGTBQIA+ rights in Ohio, which made it curious immediately after last month’s election when the Statehouse rumor mill produced this image featuring disgraced Ohio State Rep. Wesgoodman (right) rubbing sunscreen lotion into the back of Speaker-Elect Merrin:
Goodman, you’ll recall, was much like Merrin in that he was once a rising star within the Ohio Republican Party as a “Family Values” State Rep. from Cardington.
That was until November 2017, when Goodman, who already had a reputation for sexually harassing young male pages in the Statehouse, resigned after he got caught fucking a man in the same office he used to legislate his anti-gay agenda.
Merrin, it must be noted, is a “Family Values” legislator with vast financial resources who is still without a wife and children of his own. With the official Speaker’s vote not to take place until next week, sources within both parties are alleging Merrin is Goodman’s former lover.
Multiple sources funneled this picture to The Rooster since Merrin’s ascension. But nobody knew the time or date.
A Yandex image search on the slides in the background led to this TripAdvisor photo of Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs, Florida:
As for the time, well, the original photo’s EXIF data, exclusively obtained by The Rooster, reveals a timestamp of Oct. 16th, 2017, at 4:09 p.m.
There is no public information about any Republican legislative retreat to Bonita Springs like there is from such an event in January 2017.
But it is an area known intimately by every prominent Ohio Republican considering hobgoblin heiress and state party megadonor Virginia Ragan retains a luxury condo at 4800 Pelican Colony Boulevard #1904 in Bonita Springs, according to the Lee County (Florida) Auditor’s Office.
That’s a mere three-minute drive from the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.
The timing is also notable considering the Goodman scandal would break weeks later.
It’s not as if Goodman’s “lifestyle,” as his Christian boosters call it, was a secret. He was very open in his sexual harassment of male Statehouse pages.
Goodman certainly showed an appetite for young, politically conscious males, and Merrin is the GOP “wunderkind” who was mayor of a small municipality in suburban Toledo at 19.
But maybe it was just a picture of two bros enjoying a fall Monday by the water in Bonita Springs. They certainly wouldn’t be the first Ohioans accused of such a crime, even if it is a bit weird to enjoy a poolside afternoon with a known sexual predator, which Goodman was to those in power at the time.
Merrin’s office never returned The Rooster’s inquiry for comment on the picture and his relationship, if any, with the disgraced Goodman.
Goodman, who had a wife when the scandal broke, has undergone conversion therapy, which has been fundamentally debunked by science and been banned in over 20 states. He lists a political consulting business at the top of his résumé and a managerial position at Brooks Brothers on his LinkedIn.
You might think this will result in an embarrassing scandal for the Center of Christian Virtue.
Maybe it is just two bros enjoying an afternoon at the pool. It is just a photograph. But let’s say the rumors are true—that Merrin and Goodman were in a romantic relationship.
That’s bad news for the CCV, right? Well, hypocrisy charges mean nothing to these people. They jerk off to that kind of stuff. But, if they were capable of feeling shame, the leader of the Center for Christian Virtue has already erected a convenient defense around doing business with a powerful, ostensibly gay politician who nonetheless backs their reactionary agenda.
Here is CCV president Aaron Baer, the man who lept for joy when Merrin won the unofficial vote for Speaker, in April 2019, discussing the sexuality of Pete Buttigieg, which is a normal thing for normal adults to do on a random afternoon:
Baer claims not to see homosexuality as a “disease;” he just thinks engaging in homosexual behavior will cast you into an eternal, fiery pit of damnation.
As long as Merrin backs CCV’s war on public schools, gay marriage, abortion, and transgender rights, then what he does in his spare time is between him and the White Jesus their ilk clams to serve.