March 4, 2012
By Adam Bink
This went unnoticed, but a Thursday piece in the Columbus Dispatch reports signature-gathering for a ballot question in November or soon after (an effort which apparently came about inspired by the 9th Circuit ruling in the Prop 8 trial case):
A proposed constitutional amendment to undo Ohio’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban will be submitted today to Attorney General Mike DeWine.
The Freedom to Marry Coalition expects to file more than 1,700 signatures of registered Ohio voters; 1,000 valid signatures are required in the first step of placing a constitutional issue before Ohio voters this fall or possibly next year.
The proposal would change the Ohio Constitution — amended in 2004 to block same-sex marriage — to say that the state and political jurisdictions define marriage as “a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender.” It also would stipulate that “no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.”
Tim Hagan, former Cuyahoga County commissioner, Democratic candidate for governor in 2002 and co-chairman of the campaign, called it “the most-significant civil-rights act since 1964. I don’t know how one human being can look at another human being and say, ‘You don’t have the same rights.’
“I have a sister who’s gay. I have close friends who are gay,” Hagan said. “But this is not just a gay issue. This is an issue for all of us who believe strongly in human rights.”
Phil Burress, of the Cincinnati-based group Citizens for Community Values, said that if same-sex marriage supporters put the issue on the ballot this fall “they can kiss (President Barack) Obama goodbye.” Burress’ group was instrumental in passing the 2004 amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman, an issue credited by some with helping President George W. Bush to win a second term.
“I guess they’re feeling their oats because seven states have same-sex marriage,” Burress said. “ They’re going to have their hands full. We’re prepared to meet them on the field of battle.”
If DeWine approves the ballot language of the proposed amendment, it will be sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, which would determine whether the proposal can be placed on the ballot as one or multiple issues.
At that point, the Freedom to Marry Coalition can begin the task of collecting the 385,253 valid signatures required to put the issue on the statewide ballot. That could happen in November or next year, campaign officials indicated.
Hagan acknowledged that overturning the ban will be a “challenge,” but he said he thinks there has been a “fundamental shift” in public opinion since 62 percent of Ohio voters supported the 2004 amendment.
[...]The Freedom to Marry Coalition sprang up this year after a federal appeals court ruled that a same-sex marriage ban in California was unconstitutional.
Dozens of elected officials and candidates, most of them Democrats, signed on in support of the coalition, including Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther, Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady and Michael F. Curtin, former editor of The Dispatch and now a Democratic candidate for the 17th District in the Ohio House.