By Marc Kovac
Gay-marriage supporters have launched a new campaign, with hopes of persuading the populace to overturn Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions.
Equality Ohio and like-minded groups announced their “Why Marriage Matters Ohio” effort Monday at several stops around the state, including the Statehouse.
“My partner and I, who have been together for 19 years ... the state law denies us the very right to marry,” said gay state Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Democrat from the Cleveland area who is supporting the campaign. “It’s time to do the work so we may be proud of an Ohio that will not tolerate discrimination of any of her citizens, where everyone is treated fairly and equally, because equality for all is a cornerstone of our democratic society.”
In 2004, more than 60 percent of Ohio voters OK’d a constitutional amendment blocking the state from recognizing gay marriages or civil unions.
The press event at the Statehouse and the subsequent campaign will include accounts of gay couples who are not allowed to marry in Ohio and their families.
But backers are not supporting a petition drive already under way to place the gay-marriage issue on the November 2014 ballot.
That effort is being coordinated by Freedom to Marry, which has been collecting signatures for more than a year and which has garnered support from former Attorney General Jim Petro, a Republican.
Elyzabeth Holford, Equality Ohio’s executive director, said polling has indicated that not enough residents support the proposed amendment.
“We are grateful for the effort in putting together and getting out there and working on a petition effort,” she said. “At the same time, what we know ... [is] the numbers in Ohio are not strong enough yet.”
Antonio added, “There’s a lot of work, a lot of talking that has to happen to change the hearts and minds of Ohioans. ... I’ve been in an engagement for over 19 years. That’s an awful long time to be engaged, don’t you think? I’m holding out for Ohio.”