A token of good news for advocates of marriage equality in Ohio came on Tuesday when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved language in a new state amendment proposal that, if approved by voters, would overturn Ohio's marriage bill prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples. It's a small bit of progress, but the approval means advocates are one step closer to achieving legislative rights and tolerance for same-sex couples in Ohio wishing to wed.
Advocacy group Freedom to Marry Ohio originally submitted a primary version of a proposal of a revised constitutional state amendment allowing same-sex marriage to DeWine in late March. When DeWine ruled that the proposal did not provide an adequate description of the new measure, the group revised the proposal, which was resubmitted on March 26.
The proposal included the signatures of more than 2,000 electors in support of the amendment change.
According to Freedom to Marry Ohio's proposal, the new amendment would repeal and replace Section 11, Article XV of the Constitution to:
1. Allow two consenting adults freedom to enter into a marriage regardless of gender 2. Give religious institutions freedom to determine who to marry 3. Give religious institutions protection to refuse to perform marriage
DeWine stated in a press release that the next step is to decide whether the amendment should be placed on the ballot as one measure or split up into two. That task will be handed off to the Ohio Ballot Board.
Once that decision is made, Freedom to Marry Ohio will be responsible for garnering 385,253 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters in order to get its proposed marriage equality amendment on the Ohio ballot. According to a report from Huffington Post, Ian James, Freedom to Marry Ohio's co-founder, hopes to be ready for the November 2013 ballot.
Freedom to Marry Ohio is a branch of the nationwide coalition, Freedom to Marry, which organizes campaigns to achieve marriage equality nationwide.
The current amendment in place regarding Ohio marriage has been in place since 2004, when Ohio voters chose to support banning gay marriage and health benefits for public employees in domestic partnerships with a 62 percent majority.