Why Marriage Matters Ohio Committee
Elyzabeth Holford, Chair
61 Jefferson Avenue
Columbus OH 43215
Dear Chairperson Holford:
FreedomOhio is pleased with the launch of Why Marriage Matters Ohio (WMMO) and watched with great interest and optimism, the September 9th 2013 media presentation of its educational campaign in Ohio.
As you may remember, you and I attended a meeting on June 5th 2013 at which FreedomOhio was invited to join a group named “Ohioans United for Marriage.” To join this group, FreedomOhio was expected to shelve its petition for Ohio’s Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment, and to suspend its campaign effort. We viewed that abandoning our effort would have effectivelydisenfranchised the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed and/or the thousands of volunteers who have been collecting the signatures. We value and respect the voters and these volunteers – as they are engaging in important conversations about why marriage matters. This outreach started more than 18 months before the launch of WMMO, and with each conversation, our volunteers are making a critical impact for marriage equality in Ohio. We could not cut short this effort, so we respectfully declined the invitation to join Ohioans United for Marriage.
Now, three months later, we are pleased to see the announcement of WMMO, which appears to be a new and separate group from Ohioans United for Marriage. While we were not asked to participate in this group prior to its public launch, your comments in the media have indicated that we are welcome to join.
With this in mind, FreedomOhio is interested in accepting your offer to participate in WMMO, so long as joining this group does not require us to halt our petition drive and/or suspend our campaign for marriage equality. Additionally, we would like to know what terms and/or conditions are necessary for membership in WMMO, which will best allow the FreedomOhio Executive Committee to make a final decision. FreedomOhio has openly offered seats on our Executive Committee as far back as March 28th 2012 during a meeting with your predecessor and HRC’s National Field Director. A formal letter of invitation was sent May 23rd 2012, to both Equality Ohio and the Human Rights Campaign. A second invitation letter was subsequently sent to Equality Ohio July 18th 2012. To date, both groups have declined to join our Executive Committee.
Regardless of any membership decisions, our ultimate goal is, and always has been, to bring marriage equality to Ohio. We believe that educating Ohioans about why marriage matters is essential to achieving this goal. We strongly support this mission, and we wish you and WMMO success.
As was discussed at the September 10th meeting with the Franklin County Democratic Party’s Screening Committee, both FreedomOhio and WMMO (and/or Equality Ohio) have made mutual promises to work together, pulling together resources in order to achieve marriage equality in our state. During this meeting we also mutually agreed (along with HRC) that the campaign should move forward with filing the petition when reliable polling shows that 52% of likely Ohio voters will vote for the amendment language.
We see great value and strength in being able to mutually attend meetings where we can have a dialogue with the LGBT community and supporters about marriage equality, discuss our ongoing petition drive, and how we build greater support for marriage equality across the state.
As strongly as we believe in WMMO's possibilities of success, we have similar confidence in FreedomOhio's campaign. Our team has over 200 years of practical political campaign experience in Ohio to draw upon. From President Obama's Ohio re-election campaign director, Republican former Attorney General, State Auditor and Chancellor Jim Petro (who was four times elected to statewide office), former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy, to several other campaign professionals who are donating their time, FreedomOhio is well positioned to implement the winning campaign plan by identifying and mobilizing majority support for marriage equality.
Our amendment is strong, and will ensure that a same or opposite gender loving and committed couple, regardless of gender, can go to a courthouse and get a marriage license. The amendment’s text is only 46 words, and ensures that religious institutions can continue to worship in accordance with their beliefs. The Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Ballot Board and the Ohio Supreme Court approved the language of the amendment. Reliable polling by Saperstein and the Columbus Dispatch showed that 54% of Ohioans support the specific language of our amendment – that support will only continue to grow as we continue to gather signatures and WMMO educates Ohioans about why marriage matters.
I look forward to hearing from you about the terms and conditions regarding membership with WMMO, and look forward to working together to bring marriage equality to Ohio. In doing so, we will provide a future where we respect and value the worth of all our citizens.
Ben Deutschle, Chair
FreedomOhio, Executive Committee