by German Lopez
55 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:16 AM | Permalink
Ohioans overwhelmingly support medical marijuana, plurality backs same-sex marriage
Ohioans are moving left on marijuana and same-sex marriage, according to a poll released Monday by Quinnipiac University.The poll found an overwhelming majority — 87 percent — of
Ohioans support legalizing marijuana for medical uses. About 51 percent support allowing adults to legally possess a small amount of the drug. And 83 percent agree
marijuana is equally or less dangerous than alcohol.At the same time, 50 percent of Ohio voters now support same-sex marriage, compared to 44 percent who do not.A plurality of voters — 34 percent versus 26 percent —
also disapproved of Gov. John Kasich’s handling of abortion. (In the
latest state budget, Kasich and his fellow Republicans in the Ohio
legislature imposed new restrictions on abortions and abortion
providers.)Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,370 registered Ohio
voters from Feb. 12 to Feb. 17 for the poll, producing a 2.7 percent
margin of error.The findings indicate the state is moving left on the biggest social issues of the day.In 2004, Ohioans approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.Last year, a Saperstein Associates poll conducted for The Columbus Dispatch
found 63 percent of Ohioans favor legalizing medical marijuana, but 59
percent said they oppose full-on legalization. (Given the different
methodologies, it’s unclear how Saperstein Associates’ results compare
to Quinnipiac University’s poll.)Whether the liberal shift applies to ballot initiatives
remains to be seen. This year, two groups aim to get medical marijuana
and same-sex marriage on the Ohio ballot.Contrary to what polling numbers might imply, it
currently seems more likely same-sex marriage will end up on the ballot
this year. FreedomOhio, which is leading the effort, says it already has
the petition signatures required to get the issue on the ballot in
November, even though other LGBT groups, including Equality Ohio, say
the effort should wait until 2016.Meanwhile, the Ohio Rights Group admits it doesn’t yet
have the signatures required to get medical marijuana on the ballot. The
organization has until July to gather 385,247 petition signatures,
which in large part must come from at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties.
In the very unlikely scenario the Ohio Rights Group gets all the petitions in circulation back with 36 legitimate signatures filled out on each, the organization would
have about 246,000 signatures.Still, with support seemingly growing, it seems unlikely
medical marijuana and same-sex marriage will remain illegal in Ohio for
Ohio's LGBT groups disagree on timing of same-sex marriage legalization as polls show increasing support
1 Comment · Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Ohio’s leading LGBT groups continue to
disagree whether 2014 or 2016 is the right year to place same-sex
marriage legalization on the ballot.
by German Lopez
108 days ago
LGBT groups debate ballot timing, Kasich gets tea party challenge, Portune's ethics disputed
Ohio’s leading LGBT groups still disagree whether same-sex
marriage should appear on the ballot in 2014 or 2016, but FreedomOhio
says it’s continuing with efforts to put the issue to a public vote
within a year. The debate could decide when gay couples in Ohio will get
the same rights already granted to couples in other states. In its defense, FreedomOhio cites polling that shows its
amendment has support from 56 percent of Ohio voters. But that same poll
also put Ohioans within the margin of error — 47 percent in favor and
48 percent in opposition — on the general question of same-sex marriage
legalization, which other LGBT groups point to as a sign Ohio needs more
time before it’s ready.
Clermont County tea party leader Ted Stevenot will mount a Republican primary challenge against Gov. John
Kasich. Stevenot has long criticized Kasich for his support for the
federally funded Medicaid expansion, which now allows anyone up to 138
percent of the federal poverty level to enroll for Medicaid. Stevenot
has also called on Kasich to support anti-union legislation commonly
known as “right-to-work.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune’s
challenge against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald is
off to a rough start: A former law partner said Portune isn’t “ethically
… suited to be governor,” according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Portune on Monday announced his intent to challenge FitzGerald in a Democratic primary, despite opposition from various state
Commentary: “What to Watch in 2014.”
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm
warning, up from a winter weather advisory, for southwest Ohio today
between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. The region should get 3-5 inches of snow, with
most of it coming this morning and early afternoon.Three new local homeless shelters expect to start construction in 2014.Eighty local organizations across Ohio, including three in
Hamilton County, are receiving more than $26.3 million in state funds for homeless
prevention, emergency shelters and transitional and supportive housing
projects.The federal government awarded Ohio $10.8 million for getting low-income children health insurance.Check out The Onion’s best videos of 2013.
Here are the best astronomy and space pictures of 2013, according to Phil Plait of Slate.
Popular Science published its science predictions for 2014.CityBeat is hiring a full-time associate editor. Click here for more information.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
121 days ago
Cincinnati streetcar saved, gay marriage could appear on ballot, Medicaid overhaul signed
City Council yesterday decided Cincinnati will get a streetcar after all. After securing the six votes necessary to overturn a mayoral veto, Mayor John Cranley
conceded that the $132.8 million streetcar project will restart
following a two-week pause. It was a surprising journey for the project,
which largely seemed like the underdog ever since the new mayor and
council took office earlier in the month. In the end, the project gained
its sixth vote from Councilman Kevin Flynn after the philanthropic Haile Foundation signed onto contributing $900,000 a year for 10 years to help underwrite part of the streetcar’s annual operating costs.Advocacy group FreedomOhio yesterday announced it has enough signatures to place same-sex marriage on Ohio’s 2014 ballot.
The group declined to tell Cleveland.com exactly how many signatures it
had collected so far, but the organization says it’s aiming to collect 1
million before the July filing deadline. At the same time, FreedomOhio
released a poll that found Ohioans are still split on the issue of same-sex
marriage. But the poll also found that a good majority of Ohioans
support FreedomOhio’s gay marriage legalization amendment, which
provides exemptions for religious groups.Gov. John Kasich yesterday signed a bipartisan Medicaid
overhaul bill that seeks to control costs by establishing an
oversight commission and a target for spending growth. The legislation
also sets a focus on health care outcomes to ensure quality
standards in the government-run program. Both parties pursued the bill
to tamp down on health care costs that have been taking up more of the
state’s budget in the past few years.
A new report from the state attorney general’s office
found nearly half the businesses who received state aid in 2012 did not
fulfill their end of the deal in terms of producing new jobs and other promises.Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.4 percent in
November, down from 7.5 percent the month before. But the number was well above the 6.8
percent rate from November 2012, indicating a decline in job growth in
the past year.Police arrested the mother of a 3-year-old for falsification and the mother’s boyfriend for accidentally shooting the child on Tuesday.Today is Homeless Memorial Day, a day meant to commemorate those who died in 2013 while experiencing homelessness. The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is gathering at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of 14th and Elm streets to honor the occasion.Bike Share plans to come to Cincinnati next summer and allow residents to rent out bikes around multiple parts of town.Miami University is the second most efficient
university in the nation in terms of delivering a good education
for relatively low cost, according to a study from U.S. News and World Report.Cincinnati’s housing market marked 29 consecutive months of increased sales last month with a 5-percent rise. The measure indicates the local economy is recovering after the Great Recession crippled housing markets around the nation.A new product that claims to translate dogs’ thoughts to human speech is bogus.After today, Morning News and Stuff will take a vacation until Dec. 26. Happy holidays!Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy • News: @CityBeat_News • Music: @CityBeatMusic • German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 11:19 AM | Permalink
LGBT groups call for marriage equality to bring standard to state and local taxes
The Ohio Department of Taxation this week released
separate tax forms that will allow gay couples who live in the state but
got married in another state to jointly file for taxes at the federal
level. But because of Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage,
same-sex couples won’t be able to jointly file for taxes at the state
or local level.
Although the move is being received as a step forward for
Ohio’s gay couples, some LGBT groups say the discrepancy between
different levels of government shows the need to push for marriage
equality in Ohio.
Why Marriage Matters Ohio, which is trying to educate
Ohioans on the benefits of same-sex marriage, pointed out
the discrepancy in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
“This is why marriage equality matters in Ohio. This is
why we’re working to build support for affording all Ohio families the
protections and responsibilities that only marriage offers,” wrote Elyzabeth Holdford, executive director of Equality Ohio and board chair
of Why Marriage Matters Ohio.
FreedomOhio, which is attempting to get same-sex marriage
on the November 2014 ballot, also criticized the discrepancy on
“While many will appreciate the extra tax benefits, this
separate and unequal treatment of families is unfair, unequal and is not
the treatment we seek,” said Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, in a
statement. “FreedomOhio is committed to bringing equal rights to all
Beyond the issue of equal rights, allowing same-sex
marriages in Ohio could generate economic activity. A study conducted by
Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC, found
marriage equality could produce $100-$126 million in economic growth
within three years in the state and $8.2 million in the same time span
in Hamilton County.
The new tax form for same-sex couples can be found here.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:18 AM | Permalink
Most Ohioans mistakenly think laws already exist to protect employment equality
Ohio voters overwhelmingly support laws that would protect
gays and lesbians from job discrimination, but even more Ohioans
mistakenly think such laws are already in place, according to the 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.
The poll found 68 percent of Ohio voters favor laws that
protect gays and lesbians in the workplace. Only 25 percent of
respondents voiced opposition.
But about 84 percent incorrectly think legal protections
already exist at the state level and 80 percent mistakenly assumed such
laws exist at the federal level. Similarly, around four in five people
wrongly think it’s already illegal to refuse to rent a home
or do business with someone because of sexual orientation and gender
While employment discrimination isn’t tolerated, the poll
found Ohioans are evenly divided on whether same-sex marriage should be
legal (47 percent to 47 percent) and a slim majority said the state
constitution shouldn’t be amended to allow gays and lesbians to marry
(51 percent to 45 percent).
The poll was conducted through telephone interviews
between Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, sampling 883 registered voters in Ohio with a
margin of error of 3.9 percent.
The results provide some context for why Ohio’s LGBT
groups are currently at odds over whether they should pursue marriage
equality. FreedomOhio is aiming to put the issue on the ballot in 2014, but Equality Ohio says employment protections are more politically realistic and should take precedence.
Still, there has been some momentum in favor of marriage
equality in the past couple years. A Quinnipiac University poll released
on April 19 found 48 percent of Ohio voters support gay marriage and 44 percent oppose it, with a 2.9 percent margin of
error. That was a switch from a Dec. 12 poll, which found 47 percent
of Ohio voters were against same-sex marriage and 45 percent favored
FreedomOhio is currently gathering petition signatures to
put same-sex marriage on the ballot. The group was originally aiming to put the issue to a vote in 2013, but it ultimately delayed its
efforts by one year.
by German Lopez
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on same-sex marriage
The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down the federal
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a ruling that effectively requires the
federal government to recognize same-sex marriages for couples who
reside in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
The DOMA ruling also sets a powerful historical precedent by extending equal protection rights to gay and lesbian individuals.In another ruling, the Supreme Court vacated a case on California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state, and effectively sent the case back down to a lower court that deemed Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ruling means California will likely begin giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the ruling’s effects will not go beyond California’s borders.
For gay and lesbian Ohioans, the DOMA ruling adds yet another incentive to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. If FreedomOhio’s efforts to get the issue on the ballot in 2014 are successful, Ohio’s gay couples will have their marriages recognized at all levels of government. (The group previously aimed for 2013, but it now says it needs more time.)
So far, it remains unclear whether the ruling will extend
to same-sex couples who get married in other states but live in Ohio. If so, Ohio gay couples could get married in Massachusetts, return to Ohio and be eligible for federal marriage benefits — but not state marriage benefits. Legal experts and federal officials will surely debate the
issue in the coming months to develop a clearer answer.
Still, there’s been a lot of cheering and jubilation about
the historical rulings, which are widely seen as victories for LGBT rights. Below are some of
those reactions from local and state leaders, gathered through
interviews and statements.Also, make sure to check out CityBeat's Pride Issue for more coverage on LGBT issues.
Councilman Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly gay council member:
“It’s pretty amazing. Just as President Obama when he
announced his support for marriage equality, this feels like just as
much of a milestone, if not more because of the legal significance of
the rulings. This is proof that the tides have turned and the laws are
changing. We are realizing full equality for LGBT people across this
“The fact that they used the equal protection clause means
this case will be used across the country for every type of law that
has an impact on LGBT people. The Supreme Court just set a new precedent for
the rights of any government to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
It’s far broader than just the repeal of DOMA, which in itself is an
incredible feat. But the precedent that it’s setting for scrutiny on the
basis of sexual orientation will have an effect on laws throughout this
country for decades to come.”
Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio:
“We are elated that the Supreme Court has repealed DOMA
and in effect rejected Proposition 8. These decisions are proof that the
tide of acceptance for all couples is turning in this country, and we
have taken two more important steps toward true equality.
“This important moment, however, does not change the
reality that Ohio still has a constitutional amendment banning
same-gender marriage. Ohio voters can address the civil rights issue of
our generation by voting for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom
amendment. We are elated and our resolve has been doubled to collect
signatures. The journey continues. We will bring marriage equality to
Ohio in November, 2014.”
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party:“I’m
deeply thankful that the Defense of Marriage Act has finally been
struck from our country’s books, and that millions across the nation and
Ohio are one step closer to equal and fair treatment under the law.
DOMA implemented discrimination into the highest law of the land, and
it’s a great day that this ugly reminder of a different time is finally
gone. “Ohio Democrats are honored to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters
in the fight to earn marriage equality for all, and continue our march
to overcome the prejudice of the past. But despite our victories across
the nation, Ohio Republicans in the Statehouse and Governor’s office
remain committed to keeping prejudice enshrined in law.” John Boehner, U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican from West Chester, Ohio:
“Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an
overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President (Bill) Clinton signed it into
law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a
law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally.
While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical
that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national
debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my
hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and
German Lopez, gay staff writer at CityBeat:
“Cool.”Danny Cross, CityBeat editor: “DOMA was a real horseshit piece of legislation, and we're happy those old bastards in the Supreme Court did the right thing.”Update (1:47 p.m.): Added more reactions.
by German Lopez
Ohioans support same-sex marriage, Portman's son explains coming out, charter schools fail
A new Saperstein Poll suggests Ohioans have dramatically shifted on same-sex marriage,
with 54 percent now supporting a new amendment to legalize gay marriage
and only 40 percent against it. FreedomOhio’s amendment would repeal
Ohio’s 2004 same-sex marriage ban and instead grant marriage rights to the
state’s many LGBT individuals. CityBeat covered the same-sex marriage amendment in further detail here and the inevitability of gay rights here. Last week, Gov. John Kasich reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions, which likely holds bad political consequences because of changing demographics.
Will Portman, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s son, wrote about coming out to his father and the experiences that followed
in today’s Yale Daily News.
In the column, Portman explained why his father took two years to shift on
same-sex marriage: “Some people have criticized my dad for waiting for
two years after I came out to him before he endorsed marriage for gay
couples. Part of the reason for that is that it took time for him to
think through the issue more deeply after the impetus of my coming out.
But another factor was my reluctance to make my personal life public.”
If the Ohio Department of Education adopts the more
rigorous school report cards demanded by lawmakers, many of the state’s
charter schools will get F’s.
Most schools would fall under the new standards, but 72 percent of
charter schools would fail — an unwelcome sign for
alternative schools often touted by Republicans for offering more school
choice. The schools’ advocates claim the discrepancy between charter
schools and other traditional public schools is driven by demographics
and greater diversity.
But Ohio’s charter schools are also safer for LGBT individuals than traditional schools, according to StateImpact Ohio.
City Councilman Chris Seelbach announced Friday that City Council is poised to support a motion
that will prevent companies and other groups from discriminating if
they take public funds. The initiative is coming together after the Gay, Lesbian,
Straight Education Network (GLSEN) was prevented from marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Western & Southern has launched the next phase of its
ongoing legal attack to run the Anna Louise Inn out of the Lytle Park
neighborhood: The financial giant is now accusing ALI and the city of lying and discrimination.
In a letter to City Solicitor John Curp, Western & Southern’s
attorneys claimed ALI can’t take federal funds and continue refusing
services to men. The city and ALI are so far unsure whether Western & Southern has a case.
Cincinnati’s Catholic schools have grown into the sixth largest Catholic schools network in the nation, serving 44,732 students in preschool through 12th grade.
New condos are opening in Over-the-Rhine.
Thousands of jobs are opening at Ohio’s insurance companies.
Ohio gas prices are up this week.
A comet, not an asteroid, may have killed the dinosaurs.
The study may provide fuel to those worried about an impending
apocalypse: There are about two million asteroids more than one
kilometer wide in the solar system, but scientists estimate that there
are up to one trillion comets.
by German Lopez
Kasich's spokesperson walks back earlier comments that supported civil unions
Earlier today, Gov. John Kasich seemed to come out in support of same-sex civil unions, but Kasich’s spokesperson says the governor was using the term “civil union” loosely and the governor is still against changing the Ohio Constitution to legalize same-sex civil unions and gay marriage.“The governor’s position is unchanged,” wrote Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, in an email. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and, while he may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance, he recognizes the existing rights of Ohioans to enter into private contracts to manage their personal property and health care issues.”The clarification walked back earlier comments from Kasich, who told Scripps Media, “I’ve got friends that are gay and I’ve told them ‘Look,
(same-sex marriage) is just not something I agree with,’ and I’m not
doing it out of a sense of anger or judgment; it’s just my opinion on
this issue.” He added, “I just think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union, that's fine with me.”
The comments to Scripps Media prompted a response from Ian James,
co-founder of FreedomOhio, which is pushing an amendment that would
legalize same-sex marriage in Ohio.
“I hope Gov. Kasich understands civil unions are banned by
the Ohio Constitution as well and they are a cruel substitute for legal
marriage,” he said in a statement. “We need equal rights and family
security in Ohio for same-gender couples. That's why more and more
Republicans are making the right choice and stepping up to support
The comments from Kasich, who will run for his second term as governor in 2014 and is seen as a potential
presidential candidate in 2016, come during a period of renewed soul-searching
within the Republican Party. Most recently, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced his support of same-sex marriage two years after his son came out as gay. The change means both Ohio senators now support same-sex marriage. A recent report from the Republican
National Committee acknowledged a generational divide on the same-sex
marriage issue: “Already, there is a generational difference within the
conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the
rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway
into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”
Not all Republicans agreed with the report, which sought to establish a new blueprint for Republicans in response to 2012’s
electoral losses. In a recent blog post,
Republican Rep. Steve Chabot wrote, “To me that (the report) sounds a whole lot like
accepting things like gay marriage, and being more liberal on abortion.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a great way to alienate a lot of our
base who are still with us. Big mistake.”
Still, the report’s findings are supported by recent polling. A poll from The Washington Post
in September 2012 found about 52 percent of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, and
only 37 percent are against it, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.
Another poll from Pew Research Center found support for same-sex marriage is growing,
particularly because of the younger generations. Among U.S. adults, about 49
percent responded in support of same-sex marriage, and 44 percent were
in opposition. The Pew survey found a stark generational divide: Millenials — adults born after 1980 — had particularly
pronounced support for same-sex marriage at 70 percent, and about 49
percent of Generation X individuals, meaning those born between 1965 and
1980, were also in support. But only 38 percent of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 —
supported same-sex marriage, and only 31 percent of those born between 1928
and 1945 claimed support.
Supporting same-sex civil unions would have made Kasich a moderate by Republican standards. In the 2012
Republican presidential primaries, only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
supported civil unions, and the rest of the candidates stood
against same-sex marriage and civil unions.
In contrast, Democrats are now widely in favor of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality was embraced in the official Democratic platform in September 2012, and
President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to support gay
marriage in May 2012.
FreedomOhio’s amendment could be on the ballot as early as this year. CityBeat
previously covered the amendment’s potential benefits and challenges,
including some opposition from Equality Ohio, another LGBT group (“Evolution of Equality,” issue of Nov. 28).
Beyond giving equal rights to same-sex couples, gay
marriage could also bring economic benefits to Ohio. A study from Bill
LaFayette, founder of Regionomics LLC, found that legalizing gay
marriage would grow Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures
economic worth, by $100 million to $126 million within three years.
Statewide, that would sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year of
legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210
within the third year. In Hamilton County alone, legalization would
produce $8.2 million in growth, according to the study.
The U.S. Supreme Court will take up same-sex marriage in two high-profile cases next week. The cases will deal with California’s Proposition 8 law, which made same-sex marriage illegal in the Golden State, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed by former President Bill Clinton that made same-sex marriage illegal on a federal level.Update (4:45 p.m.): This story was updated to reflect comments from Rob Nichols, Gov. John Kasich's spokesperson.
Are Ohioans ready to recognize my gay marriage?
4 Comments · Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In 2004, while most Democrats around me
reeled from the defeat of John Kerry, I had other post-election
problems: Gay marriage and same-sex
civil unions had been officially banned in Ohio. I was devastated. I was 14 back then. If I had been 14 in 2013, it’s
increasingly looking like my story of that age would have been very