An effort to repeal Ohio's gay marriage
ban is getting the cold shoulder from established gay rights groups.
On Thursday, the Ballot Board cleared a
proposed amendment which would legalize gay marriage in the state.
It would repeal a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a
heterosexual union, which passed in 2004 with overwhelming support.
Nascent group Freedom to Marry Ohio now
must collect roughly 385,000 valid signatures from at least half of
Ohio's 88 counties to get their proposal on next year's ballot.
The group is helmed by Ian James, who
also headed the group which unsuccessfully campaigned in 2004 to
defeat the ban, and is co-chaired by four elected officials.
The effort has won
the endorsement of George Forbes, president of the Cleveland
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
But Ohio's largest gay rights advocate,
Equality Ohio, and the nation's largest group devoted to the issue of
marriage equality, Freedom to Marry, appear to be steering clear of
the effort, each saying the timing isn't right.
“Freedom to Marry is not behind the
signature campaign to advance marriage in Ohio,” Marc Solomon,
national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, told the Gay
“Ballot measures are expensive and we
need to do years of groundwork, hit benchmarks, and get the state to
where we can win,” Solomon added. “Getting to the ballot is the
last step. It should never be the first step.”
Freedom to Marry Ohio has been
criticized for not consulting with other groups or surveying voters
on the issue before filing ballot language with Attorney General Mike
Ed Mullen, director of Equality Ohio,
also suggested James and his group were moving too fast.
“Ultimately, we'd like a broad
coalition,” Mullen said, “and a sound plan for moving forward.”
Freedom to Marry Ohio's James countered
that the effort has broad support.
“Almost overnight, we had more [than]
1,400 volunteers in all 88 counties stand up and ask how can they get
involved and help. It has truly been inspiring,” James said.
A campaign to win marriage equality at
the ballot box in Ohio could cost upwards of $10 million, the paper
hosts “illegal mass wedding” of 250 gay couples.)