By Marc Kovac
A group that hopes to overturn Ohio’s ban on gay marriage has been given the green light to begin collecting petition signatures.
The Ohio Ballot Board on Tuesday agreed that the Freedom to Marry Constitutional Amendment represented one amendment, and backers could proceed to seek voter support to place it on the ballot.
“Please remember that we are not here to debate the merits of the proposed amendment, only whether it is one amendment or more,” Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said during the board’s short morning meeting.
Columbus attorney Don McTigue, representing the petitioners, offered brief comments, noting that the new amendment was similar to a prior submission approved two years ago by the ballot board.
There were few other comments; the meeting lasted about five minutes.
Supporters of the amendment will need to collect more than 380,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
It’s the second proposal from FreedomOhio, which wants to overturn the state’s gay-marriage ban while allowing churches to refrain from participating in such ceremonies. The new ballot language also would call for gay marriages conducted in other states to be treated equally under state law to heterosexual unions.
The gay marriage ban was added to the state constitution by voters in 2004, with support from more than 60 percent of the electorate.