Citing “vicious comments,” the
group working to repeal Ohio's gay marriage ban canceled a meeting
with established groups Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality
Earlier this month, Ohio's Ballot Board
cleared a proposed amendment filed by Freedom to Marry Ohio 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.
The group now must collect roughly
385,000 valid signatures from at least half of Ohio's 88 counties to
get the proposal on next year's ballot.
According to the Gay People's
Chronicle, an April 9 meeting between Freedom to Marry Ohio, HRC
and Equality Ohio was called off when Freedom to Marry Ohio founder
Ian James and its CEO, Mary Jo Kilroy, refused to attend.
The meeting was set up by former
Congressman Ed Feighan and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim
Feighan, who is openly gay, said James
cited “harsh, mean-spirited, vicious comments” in the media as
the reason for canceling on the meeting the day before it was
scheduled to take place.
Ed Mullen, executive director for
Equality Ohio, the state's largest gay rights advocate, said that
sufficient “research and analysis has not been done that would make
this a successful effort.”
Harsher comments came for Freedom to
Marry's Marc Solomon.
“Ballot measures are expensive and we
need to do years of groundwork, hit benchmarks, and get the state to
where we can win,” said Solomon, national campaign director for
Freedom to Marry. “Getting to the ballot is the last step. It
should never be the first step.”
The lack of support from other groups
prompted Hagan, Freedom to Marry Ohio's high-profile chair, to quit.
Hagan walks away from effort to repeal Ohio gay marriage ban.)
“Questions have been raised,” Hagan
told the Gay
People's Chronicle, “and it could have been solved by
having everyone at the table.”
“They declined a meeting because they
thought they were unduly criticized,” he added.
James insisted that his group's door
“is not closed, not cracked open, but wide open to ongoing
conversations with EO and other organizations.”