Marriage Advocates to Challenge Ohio Marriage Ban

Jim Burroway

March 1st, 2012

From the Columbus Dispatch comes a report that the Freedom the Marry Coalition is expected to file more than 1,700 signatures today to Attorney General Mike DeWine which would change the Ohio Constitution to broaden marriage to “a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender.” It would also add a clause stipulating that “no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.”

In 2004, Ohioans passed a very broad ban on same-sex unions of all kinds by a vote of 62% to 38%. That vote, coming at the same time as the 2004 presidential election, is widely credited with motivating the socially conservative base to turn out on election day and provide President George W. Bush the margin of that he needed to carry Ohio and win a second term.

If DeWine approves the ballot measure, then it goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide whether it can be placed on the ballot as one or two separate issues. This would only be the first steps. After those decisions are made, an additional 387,000 signatures will need to be collected, including a significant number in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. This requires a significant effort in more rural counties in order to make the ballot. Equality Ohio estimates that it wold take and estimated $2.25 million just to get on the ballot. And with recent polling (PDF: 156KB/18 pages) showing that only 32% of Ohioans support marriage equality while 55% believe it should remain illegal, I’m really not sure whether this expenditure is wise in the face of other marriage battles in Maine, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington already.

Ravenbiker

March 1st, 2012

Its sad that rights “need” referendum.

Priya Lynn

March 1st, 2012

It sure sounds like its a bad move.

Stefan

March 1st, 2012

Now is not the right time, but it needs to begin somewhere though.

GavinC

March 1st, 2012

Domestic partnerships or reciprocal benefits( similair to what they have in Colorado) would make a lot more sense and would have a greater chance at succeeding. This not only wastes resources in Ohio but could be damaging to the legalization of same sex marriage in other states that actually have a chance. An attempt to pass a statewide ENDA would be the best option at present.

Matt Algren

March 1st, 2012

GavinC, for what it’s worth, there’s a move on for a state ENDA as well. Not sure what the chances are, though, considering the very red legislature we have right now.

And if I remember correctly (it’s too depressing to go look up), the Ohio amendment is pretty air-tight, meaning that domestic partnerships and reciprocal benefits are off the table until the amendment is repealed.

I hate this state sometimes.

Dave H

March 1st, 2012

We complain, rightfully, when the anti-gays put referenda on the ballot to take away our rights, claiming that it is wrong to put people’s rights up to a popular vote.

For this same reason, I think it is equally wrong for our sides to put measures on the ballot in which people will vote on our rights, even if we think we have the numbers to win.

We need to accomplish marriage equality through our legislatures and our courts.

Matt Algren

March 1st, 2012

Dave, while I think this attempt is poorly timed and ill-fated, the Ohio legislature can’t, and frankly, *won’t* fix it. As for the judiciary, Ohio’s amendment was pretty widely recognized in 2004 as airtight and bulletproof. Unless it’s ruled unconstitutional on the federal level (with Perry v. Brown, for example, he said with fingers crossed), a popular vote is the only way to do it.

GavinC

March 2nd, 2012

Matt, What I meant was that an attempt to pass a constitutional amendment legalizing CUs, DPs or ENDA would be a better idea.

Matt Algren

March 5th, 2012

GavinC, gotcha. CUs and DPs are off the table, though. There’s some question as to whether the marriage effort in Ohio will have to be two separate votes: One to invalidate the current amendment, and another to institute marriage, CUs or DPs. I would bet that Ohio’s Sec. or State (a Republican) will say that it has to be split, which, of course, makes it that much harder and more expensive.

Ugh. It’s so frustrating.

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