The proposed amendment would change the state’s Constitution to read that the definition of marriage would be “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.”
The Freedom to Marry Coalition, who sponsored the amendment, is then tasked with collecting the required 385,253 valid voter’s signatures need to place the proposed amendment on a statewide ballot, which could occur by this November, or in 2013.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Tim Hagan, former Cuyahoga County commissioner, a 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. 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, told the Dispatch 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.”
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.
“I feel strongly now that voters, upon reflection, have come to realize everyone is entitled to the same rights.”
Ohio is among 31 states whose constitutions specifically prohibit same-sex marriage.