George Forbes, president of the Cleveland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has endorsed an effort to repeal Ohio's gay marriage ban, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

“The time is now to grant two loving people the Freedom to Marry,” Forbes said in a statement. “Not since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has there been a more important step to achieving equality for all Americans.”

“At the same time, we are ensuring that religious institutions are guaranteed the freedom to refuse to perform or recognize marriages.”

In 2008, Forbes, a former Cleveland City Council president, at first opposed Cleveland's gay-inclusive domestic partner registry, which guarantees no rights or benefits whatsoever.

“I found out it was nothing more than a registry,” he told the Gay People's Chronicle. “I'm a civil rights lawyer and I realized that I have never had a gay or lesbian civil rights case, and it is because there are no rights.”

The group Freedom to Marry Ohio last week resubmitted a petition that seeks to repeal Ohio's ban, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004. The group's first petition was rejected by Attorney General Mike DeWine, who said it was flawed. If DeWine approves the proposal, the group can begin gathering the roughly 385,000 signatures needed to put the item on next year's ballot.

(Related: Cleveland hosts “illegal mass wedding” of 250 gay couples.)