Ohio's leading U.S. Senate candidates support gay marriage.

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher are vying for the Senate seat now held by Republican George Voinovich, who is retiring. A May 4 Democratic primary will decide who'll battle Republican Rob Portman in November.

Brunner is a long-time supporter of granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, but Fisher only recently came on board, gay weekly the Gay People's Chronicle reported.

Fisher was asked to comment on the issue at a recent Cleveland City Club forum.

“Mr. Fisher, you say you're in favor of marriage equality. How does that differ from being supportive of same-sex marriage?” Karen Kasler of Ohio Public Radio asked.

“I believe it's the same thing,” Fisher answered.

“I believe that the federal government has no business telling two people who are in a committed relationship and want to take responsibility for them the rest of their life that they can't marry. It's wrong,” he added.

The 58-year-old Fisher has previously endorsed recognizing gay couples with civil unions. In 2009, he said he had “questions about marriage.”

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a gay marriage ban in 2004.

Sherrod Brown, Ohio's junior senator, opposed amending the Ohio constitution to ban gay marriage. While serving in the House, Brown voted against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that defines marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies and allows states to ignore legal gay marriages performed outside their borders.

Both Fisher and Brunner are leading in polls over their Republican rival, Portman, but a majority of voters say they remain undecided.