CAPITAL SQUARE REVIEW AND ADVISORY BOARD TO RECONSIDER POLICIES BANNING SAME-SEX COUPLES

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board (CSRAB) voted Wednesday to have a CSRAB committee review its discriminatory wedding policy. The review came at the request of CSRAB member Rep. Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton) in an effort toaddress CSRAB's denial of renting LGBT couples a public accommodation for weddings and receptions.

 

Since 2006, the Statehouse has allowed couples to rent the Statehouse and grounds to use for wedding ceremonies and receptions. To do so, couples must provide a valid Ohio marriage license. While the Statehouse rules do not explicitly prohibit same-sex couples from using the facilities, the rules clearly discriminate against a large group of Ohio citizens.

Following the FreedomOhio Executive Director Ian James thanked community leaders for their support, saying:

“In January, FreedomOhio working with State Rep. Michael Stinziano asked theCapitol Square Review and Advisory Board Statehouse to revise its wedding policy as it clearly violates equal access to a public accommodation. Ohioans deserve equal access to the Statehouse which is known as the 'People’s House.'We thank Rep. Stinziano for making the request and for Rep. Slesnik and the Board for moving forward on this matter.”

FREEDOM OHIO TO MOVE FORWARD WITH BALLOT INITIATIVES ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY, EQUAL HOUSING

On Friday, FreedomOhio will do what no other ballot issue campaign in Ohio has ever done in an effort to bring equality to Ohio’s LGBT Community: hold its original petition for marriage equality in a state of readiness for filing, while collecting signatures on a new petition with revised language.  

In order to ensure that the right language is placed on the ballot at the right time, FreedomOhio will continue to work with in-state LGBT groups and allies.  Over the coming months, FreedomOhio will also utilize extensive polling on both the existing and the new petitions to guarantee that voters will ultimately see the best possible language on the ballot.

“FreedomOhio supports the efforts educating Ohio voters about why marriage equality matters,” explained Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director.  “We’ve been listening to in-state LGBT groups and allies, and we’ve found that our adjusted language provides a pathway to consensus.”

In addition, FreedomOhio will begin to circulate a petition to give voters the opportunity to pass the Equal Housing and Employment Act through an Initiated Statute.  FreedomOhio will collect the 116,000 valid signatures necessary to present to the Ohio General Assembly for consideration.  After the required four-month period, if the General Assembly has failed to take action, FreedomOhio will collect additional signatures to bring the measure to a vote, which current polling indicates 7 of 10 Ohioans support.

“Nearly all statehouse observers agree: EHEA is a welcome statute whose time has come, but it cannot pass in this General Assembly. Therefore, we will work directly with Ohio voters to pass this measure so that everyone can have equal access to a safe place to live and work without fear of discrimination.”

FREEDOMOHIO CALLS ON STATE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE EQUAL INSURANCE COVERAGE TO ALL COUPLES

  Today, FreedomOhio called on the state of Ohio to begin offering spousal insurance coverage to same-sex couples.  Following a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health insurers and now required to offer their family plans to all couples.  While the decision marks a breakthrough for same-sex couples, the federal government will not enforce it until 2015. 

In response, FreedomOhio Executive Director Ian James issued the following statement:

“This decision is exciting, but without the equal protection of marriage, Ohioans continue to live without the most basic of legal protections.  These discriminatory policies have real consequences for real people like David Gutierrez, who works for the Ohio Secretary of State.  David who has bravely served his country in the United States Navy, is married to James Winnett. David recently tried to add James to his spousal insurance, but was denied because the state of Ohio does not recognize their marriage as legal.

“David and James are just two of the many Ohio citizens who are denied access to a vital service like health insurance—a service they are requiredby law to purchase. Why? Unfortunately it’s because while the rest of the nation moves forward, Ohio continues to hold tightly to a costly and unnecessary policy.

“With the March 31st ACA deadline for coverage fast approaching, Ohio must act quickly.  FreedomOhio is calling on Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature to take action to ensure that all of Ohio’s public employees have equal access to insurance plans that fit the needs of their families.  It’s a common sense approach that will save taxpayers money, and offer every family the protection and coverage they deserve.”

AFTER STOPPING HB 376, FREEDOMOHIO ASKS AG DEWINE TO WITHDRAW FROM CASE THAT OPENS DOOR TO NATIONAL ANTI-GAY DISCRIMINATION

FreedomOhio asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to withdraw the amicus brief his office filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation v. Kathleen Sebelius cases. The request comes two weeks after FreedomOhio, the state’s largest LGBT equality group, helped stop Ohio House Bill 376 – the Gay Discrimination Bill. Oral arguments in the cases will be heard March 25th.

In the brief, DeWine argues companies have an inherent religious freedom and therefore are not required to participate in the Affordable Care Act. However, FreedomOhio notes that the cases go well beyond “Obamacare,” and opens the door to “wholesale anti-gay discrimination.”

“FreedomOhio respectfully asks AG DeWine to withdraw his participation in this case,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio’s Executive Director. “Suggesting corporations can have a religious belief, and therefore the right to religious expression, opens a door to dangerous unintended consequences in which Federal Law would permit anti-gay discrimination nationwide.”

James says the legitimate and warranted concern is DeWine’s argument would legalize the right of a corporation to refuse goods and services to those with whom it claims to have an objection based upon the expression of a “sincere religious belief.”

“We don’t believe the Attorney General has fully considered the discrimination that his argument would enshrine in Federal Law,” James said. “Extending the right of religious freedom to a corporation is a dangerous step far beyond the intent of the Founding Fathers because unlike people, corporations can be bought and sold to other countries and interests. When sold, these new owners may not fit into a neat well-intentioned Christian package of thought or practice. And therein lies the significant and dangerous slippery slope of unintended consequences which also diminishes the freedom that is historically and rightfully held by houses of worship, not corporations.”

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is considered ultra-conservative, vetoed legislation that would have afforded businesses a right to “religious freedom” at the urging of various high-profile Republican lawmakers, including former Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. Ohio’s legislature killed a mirror bill calling the bill unnecessary and unwise.

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with more than 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

PATMON TO JOIN FREEDOMOHIO IN EFFORT TO KILL HB 376

This morning, State Rep. Bill Patmon agreed to join FreedomOhio’s effort to kill House Bill 376, otherwise known as the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“I’m relieved to see Rep. Patmon working to stop this destructive and discriminatory piece of legislation,” said FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director Ian James. “Our state already has an unconstitutional marriage ban in place, depriving loving same-sex couple of the right to be legally married – the last thing we need is to further marginalize and attack LGBT Ohioans.

“We have asked Rep. Patmon to send a letter to the Ohio House Clerk indicating that he no longer wishes to be a sponsor of HB 376, and that he wants to stop any further progress of this legislation. FreedomOhio has also asked him to publicly oppose the discriminatory nature of this bill, and will continue to work with Rep. Patmon and other legislators to prevent the passage of this harmful, unnecessary bill.” 

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members. The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

Statement from FreedomOhio Executive Director, Ian James on Governor Kasich's State of the State

Today, in response to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State Address, FreedomOhio released the following statement. 

Co-founder and Executive Director Ian James said, “While the Governor may think his base of voters are "not there yet" on the issues of freedom to marry, employment or housing, and equal application of the law, polling suggests otherwise. 

“We hope Governor Kasich will take time in the coming months to vocalize his support to ensure that all Ohioans are treated equally, and will speak-out to stop Ohio's legislature from passing Ohio's Jim Crow Law (HB376). Doing so will better help Ohio grow its economy and job base by being inclusive, not intolerant, exclusive and hateful."

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

EQUALITY OHIO WILL OBSTRUCT MARRIAGE EQUALITY FREEDOMOHIO CONTINUING MOMENTUM TOWARD BALLOT

 Ian James, Co-Founder and Executive Director of FreedomOhio, issued the following statement, regarding a vote by Equality Ohio’s leadership to actively oppose the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

“It is not news that the out-of-touch leadership of Equality Ohio has negative things to say about bringing marriage equality to loving couples in our state. The leaders of Equality Ohio are stuck knee-deep in a negative quagmire, and are betraying their membership. We don't make progress by sowing fear into the hearts of our biggest supporters,” James said. 

“We're focusing on the positive. Our ballot language has been approved by the Ohio Attorney General, the Ohio Ballot Board and the Ohio Supreme Court.  The latest polling shows 56 percent of Ohioans would approve our specific language because it gives a loving couple the legal right to marry and preserves the religious freedom of houses of worship.  On Valentine’s Day, the failed leadership of Equality Ohio attempted to shoot an arrow into the heart of marriage equality and missed.  We're positive we're on the right track to bringing marriage equality to Ohio.”

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

CCV Attacks

Friends of Equality,
Below is the anticipated attack from the anti-LGBT Citizens for Community Values (CCV). Please note that CCV is NOT attacking FreedomOhio. Instead, they are attacking WMMO/EO's concern over our 13-word FreedomOhio Religious Freedom clause and their claim of wishing to conduct a "deep dive" on our religious freedom clause.

So you might well ask: "Why is CCV not attacking FreedomOhio and the Amendment?"
The answer is simple: CCV knows all too well that FreedomOhio's common sense 46-word Constitutional Amendment includes a 13-word "religious freedom" clause that protects religious freedom. They know that our amendment protects all houses of worship by giving them added legal immunity to refuse to perform or recognize a same sex marriage.

Our opponents knows that the use of term "religious institution" in the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment has specific meaning and affects specific entities (i.e. Houses of Worship - as you'll see below). As such, a "religious institution" is considered to be so when a majority of it's work is evangelizing and/or proselytizing. Therefore, placing a crucifix, star of David or crescent moon over a door doesn't make a building a religious institution. It's about the work not the affiliation. Winning marriage equality is much the same.

Stay focused. We're winning.

Ian James
Co-Founder and Executive Director
FreedomOhio PAC


Friends,

Pay attention to the words we have bolded in the following article in which CCV's Phil Burress is quoted. Michael Premo, the campaign manager sent in from New Jersey for Equality Ohio's "Why Marriage Matters" campaign, has just alluded to their true beliefs about religious freedom: an inconvenient obstruction in the way of their agenda.

The campaign to legalize same-sex marriage is not just about same-sex marriage; it's also about undermining religious freedom and eventually even forcing churches ("religious institutions") to perform same-sex marriages.

Tuesday, you read Joseph Backholm's article about what's transpiring in Washington state after they legalized same-sex marriage. Before Christmas, you read about how same-sex marriage activists turned on and tried to kill religious protections once they had enough votes in New Jersey. You've read the Undeniable stories about attacks on religious freedom.

You've seen where Americans who disagree with homosexual behavior or activities (like same-sex wedding ceremonies) are being forced to violate their beliefs or face punishment by the State. Now we're getting an indication of what same-sex marriage could mean for people of faith, small businesses, religious schools, even pastors and churches right here in Ohio:

---

Gay-marriage groups differ on timing
By Alan Johnson The Columbus Dispatch • Wednesday February 12, 2014 6:35 AM

The timing of a proposed Ohio same-sex marriage amendment, and the inclusion of an exemption for religious institutions, continue to divide two gay-activist groups supporting the issue.

EqualityOhio officials say this year is too early for a campaign to overturn the state's 10-year-old constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. They also question the proposed ballot language, including the right of religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize such unions.

"We are waiting to win and not running to lose," said Michael Premo, manager of the Why Marriage Matters Ohio education campaign. "A win here would be a significant victory for our side. This is for all the marbles."

But FreedomOhio representatives, who already have collected 650,000 signatures on a petition to put the issue on the statewide ballot, say the time is right and the support is there this year.

"We are an Ohio-based coalition with thousands of Ohio volunteers that includes a campaign team with more than 200 years of practical boots-on-the-ground (collective) experience," said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder and executive director. "We are on track to collect 1 million signatures for marriage, and we remain open to anyone who wants to join us."

The stakes are high because if the issue fails, it likely would not be resurrected quickly, perhaps not for years.

A clause in the proposed ballot wording that would provide a "religious institution" exemption is a flashpoint of disagreement. As approved by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, the issue says "no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage."

In a meeting yesterday with Dispatch editors, Premo questioned the 46-word amendment and the exemption.

"We're taking a deep dive on the ballot language to see if it does what it's supposed to do," he said. "There are questions we need to take a closer look at."

Premo said the exemption potentially could be used by a hospital affiliated with a church or religious group as the rationale for denying spousal rights to a same-sex couple. He said EqualityOhio would not support the amendment if it disagrees with the wording.


New language would mean starting over with a new petition drive to collect 385,245 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters.

The timing of when the issue hits the ballot also is in dispute. If the campaign goes to the ballot this year, the big-ticket race is the re-election bid of Gov. John Kasich; in 2016, it would be the presidential election.

Washington-based GOP pollster Neil Newhouse, who worked for Kasich's and Mitt Romney's campaigns, said the challenge in passing a same-sex marriage issue is turning out supporters. "The voters who feel most strongly about this are anti-gay marriage," he said. "The pro side will have to turn out low-propensity, younger voters. It's easier to turn out those voters in a presidential year. In a low-interest gubernatorial year, it's much more difficult.

"The local guy wants Ohio to make a statement and flip on this issue, but running this year is very, very risky for them."

Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati-based conservative group that led the charge for the 2004 constitutional amendment, is gearing up for a fight, whether it's this year or in 2016, Phil Burress said. He predicted previously that putting the issue on the ballot this year "spells victory for John Kasich."

Burress said the gay-marriage amendment on the 2004 ballot helped turn out GOP voters and secure a re-election victory for President George W. Bush.

Yesterday, the group circulated an email predicting that churches would get sued if Ohioans legalize same-sex marriage.
###

LAWSUIT FILED BY SAME-SEX MARRIED PARENTS SEEKS TO END DISCRIMINATION ON BIRTH CERTIFICATES

Cincinnati, Ohio: February 10, 2014: The lawsuit seeks a federal court order requiring Ohio to place the names of both married same-sex parents on the birth certificates of their children.  Lead counsel, Al Gerhardstein stated,

Last year the federal court ordered Ohio to end discrimination against married same-sex couples on death certificates. Today these moms and dads seek to end discrimination against married same-sex couples and their children on birth certificates. At both ends of ourlifespans, a marriage is a marriage; Ohio must recognizesame-sex marriages and the families founded on those marriages throughout life.

Plaintiffs include three lesbian couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  One of the women in each marriage is pregnant through artificial insemination.  They all used anonymous sperm donors.  Their babies will all be born in Cincinnati hospitals in the next few months.  If they were in marriages with opposite-sex husbands they would apply for their birth certificates while in the hospital and the Cincinnati registrar would place the names of both parents on the child’s birth certificate.  Since these moms are in same-sex marriages Ohio will only place only one parent on their birth certificates because Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriages from other states.  This lawsuit seeks to force Ohio to put both parents on the birth certificates.

Plaintiffs also include a gay couple legally married in New York and the adoption agency that has helped them adopt a child born in Ohio. The male same-sex married couple has an order of adoption from a New York court stating that both of these married men are the parents of their adopted child.  But Ohio will not treat them like an opposite-sex married couple.  Instead Ohio will force these two dads to choose and allow only one of their names on the amended birth certificate of their adopted child.  This lawsuit seeks to force Ohio to end that discrimination.

Why Does this Matter? Birth certificates are the primary identity document in our society.  Birth certificates tell the child, “these adults are your parents,” and tell the community that these adults and children are a family.  Medical care, access to schools, travel and release of information are all easily accomplished with birth certificates and are constantly burdened without accurate birth certificates.  Forcing families to accept incorrect birth certificates imposes life-long harms and is a direct attack on family dignity.

Lawsuit details.  The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Cincinnati and it seeks declaratory and injunctive relief.  Lead Counsel is Al Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA in Cincinnati.  Co-counsel includes attorneys Lisa Meeks and Ellen Essigalso of Cincinnati.  

FREEDOMOHIO APPLAUDS NEW EFFORT TO PROTECT FAMILIES

Today, three same-gender couples filed a lawsuit in federal court to have both parents names listed on their children’s birth certificates.  All three couples were legally married outside of Ohio, and are seeking full parental rights for both spouses.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director, applauded the lawsuit, saying, “What we are seeing today is further evidence that from cradle to grave, marriage equality matters. No matter how they become parents, straight couples have no obstacles in order to be identified on their child’s birth certificate.  Legally married same-gender couples want the same family recognition and security, and they deserve no less.”

 

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

FREEDOMOHIO EXCEEDS $1 MILLION IN DONATIONS

 In it’s semi-annual reporting, Ohio’s largest LGBT Equality organization, FreedomOhio, reported it had received $236,876.92 in the last half of 2013.  $210,000 came from the contribution of professional services to strengthen the systems and operations, and $26,876.92 from approximately 317 small donors. Contributions ranged from $1 to $1000 for an average of roughly $85.

Ian James, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Freedom Ohio issued the following statement:

“FreedomOhio has raised and invested every penny of the one million dollars in contributions into building a strong, winning statewide campaign organization, with a team of dedicated volunteers and campaign professionals across the state. FreedomOhio’s investment in systems and operations allow the campaign to better reach our goal of One Million Signatures for Marriage and the funding goals set forth in our "Millions for Marriage" operation. 

“We win by addition, continuing to have conversations with hundreds of thousands of Ohioans about why marriage equality matters, and identifying supporters as we progress. The trend lines best tell the tale: Every month, the campaign grows our public support, builds our financial resources, and continues to attract more volunteers and staff to run a successful campaign. We continue the work of adding support to ensure that those who love another can marry and that Ohio can truly appreciate the worth and value of all its citizens.”

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

NATIONAL FREEDOM TO MARRY POLL SHOWS MAJORITY SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN OHIO

 A recently released poll shows a majority of voters in states that do not currently allow same-gender couples to marry would, in fact, support marriage equality.  Voters in central states, including Ohio, supported marriage equality by a large margin, with 59% supporting and 36% against.  The poll was conducted by the research firm Anzalone Liszt Grove and paid for by the national Freedom to Marry organization.

FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director Ian James praised the results, saying, “This poll is yet another confirmation that Ohio is ready for all loving couples to have the freedom to marry.  These numbers support what we are seeing all throughout our state every day – support for marriage equality is continuing to grow.  We will continue to build upon this momentum as we work to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.”

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

FREEDOMOHIO ENDORSES OHIO VOTERS BILL OF RIGHTS

COLUMBUS – FreedomOhio, the campaign to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to Ohio voters in 2014, today announced its endorsement of the Ohio Voters Bill of Rights.

Speaking on behalf of the organization, FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director Ian James said, “As a campaign striving to extend basic rights to all Ohio couples, FreedomOhio recognizes the essential role that fair voting laws play in our democracy.

“Just as the right of loving couples to be married is the foundation of happy, stable families, the right to vote is the most basic foundation of our democracy.  Each person should be free to love and vote for whomever they choose, and the Voters Bill of Rights will guarantee that our democratic foundation is in place for each and every voter in our state.  FreedomOhio is proud to endorse the Voters Bill of Rights, and we look forward to working with its sponsors in 2014 and beyond.”

State Rep. Alicia Reece, President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, thanked FreedomOhio for its endorsement.  “I am thankful that Ohio’s largest LGBT equality organization is standing strong with all of our state’s minority voters.  I look forward to building our shared vision of a more just and truly equal Ohio.”

FreedomOhio is the state’s largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.  The group is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed 56% of Ohio voters support FreedomOhio’s amendment.

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POLL SHOWS NEW SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN OHIO

A new poll released by FreedomOhio shows that a combined 56% of respondents support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), tested the full text of the amendment, allowing respondents to evaluate the importance of the amendment’s religious freedom protections.

At a press conference today, FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James said, “We are so excited about the results of this poll.  It confirms what we have been observing: attitudes toward marriage equality are changing, and voters support the right of loving couples to be legally married in Ohio.” 

“This poll is particularly important because it asked participants about the specific language of the amendment that we are hoping to bring to the ballot in 2014.  The results are clear – the more conversations we can have with voters about marriage equality and the specifics of this amendment, the more our support will continue to grow.”

FreedomOhio is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Previous polling commissioned by the Columbus Dispatch showed that 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

For more information and to read the poll, visit: https://freedomohio.com/poll

NINA WEST TO HOST BENEFIT FOR FREEDOMOHIO

 Widely acclaimed drag performer Nina West will host a benefit on behalf of FreedomOhio, the campaign to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to voters.  The event, which also features the FreedomOhio elves, will take place at Axis Nightclub on Friday, December 6 at 8:00 p.m.

“We are so excited to have Nina West hosting this event,” said FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James. 

“Who wouldn’t enjoy an evening with Nina and the FreedomOhio elves?  Nina is an amazingly talented performer, and the show will be an awesome opportunity to celebrate the Columbus LGBT community while raising money for a good cause.  It’s a win-win!”

FreedomOhio will also hold a raffle for two tickets to the April 30 Cher – Dressed to Kill Tour at Nationwide Arena.  Raffle tickets are $10 each and guests must be present to win. 

Admission to the event is $10 at the door.  The show begins at 8 p.m., with a benefit auction hosted by Nina beginning at 9 p.m.

FreedomOhio is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling commissioned by the Columbus Dispatch showed that 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

To buy advance tickets for the event, visit: https://FreedomOhio.com/nina

CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE SCOTT WHARTON ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMENDMENT

In a video released today, Congressional candidate Scott Wharton (OH-15) announced his support for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment. 

After signing FreedomOhio’s petition in support of the amendment, Wharton said:

“I support marriage equality because it’s the right thing to do.  Every Ohio citizen should have the right to marry the person they love, raise a family, and be an equal member of the community here in the 15th Congressional District and in every part of Ohio.”

“We are so grateful to Scott for his endorsement,” said FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James.  “Despite the federal-level victories in the past year, Ohioans still live with a Constitutional ban against equal marriage in our state.  To successfully bring marriage equality to Ohio, we need leaders at all levels of government to support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.”

FreedomOhio is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling commissioned by the Columbus Dispatch showed that 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

Watch Scott Wharton’s endorsement video here: https://vimeo.com/80430840

FREEDOMOHIO RESPONDS TO NEW OHIO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE TAX REGULATIONS

 The Ohio Department of Taxation released new tax forms this week for same-gender couples that have legally married outside the state of Ohio.  While these couples can file taxes jointly at the federal level, Ohio’s 2004 Constitutional marriage ban still forces them to file individual state tax returns.   

In response, FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James said,

“The irony here is that since the state of Ohio is forbidden to recognize legal marriages of same-gender couples, it forces married gay couples to file taxes individual rather than jointly, and in turn gives significant tax benefit to married gay couples that married straight couples are not permitted to receive.

 

“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.  FreedomOhio is committed to bringing equal rights to all Ohioans.”

 

FreedomOhio is working to bring their clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word amendment to Ohio voters in 2014.  The amendment will allow same-gender couples to go to a courthouse and receive a marriage license, while also protecting and respecting the rights of houses of worship to choose whether or not to perform and/or recognize those marriages. Recent polling commissioned by the Columbus Dispatch showed that 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

 

Ohio’s new tax form for individuals in same-gender marriages can be found at: http://www.tax.ohio.gov/portals/0/forms/ohio_individual/individual/2012/PIT_Schedule_ITS.pdf

Letter to Why Marriage Matters Ohio

The text below is the language of the September 14, 2013 letter from FreedomOhio Executive Committee Chair, Ben Deutschle to Why Marriage Matters Ohio (WMMO) Chair, Elyzabeth Holford in response to WMMO's media announced invitation of FreedomOhio to join the WMMO campaign effort. Download the letter here.

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.

Sincerely,

Ben Deutschle, Chair
FreedomOhio, Executive Committee
 

FreedomOhio receives the unanimous vote of the Franklin Co Dem Party

FreedomOhio receives the unanimous vote of the Franklin Co Dem Party to support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment as outlined below in a letter from Franklin County Recorder and Screening Committee Co-Chair Terry Brown:

Mr. Chairman:

On behalf of myself, my cochair David Donofrio, and the screening committee I am pleased to report our unanimous results. After much discussion with the two coalitions and among ourselves we have crafted a resolution that we would like to present to the Central and Executive Committee tomorrow evening. The discussion focused on 2 areas of agreement between the coalitions, which we feel it is important to ensure both groups keep the promises they made in the screening.  We have listed them as items 1 & 2 below. In addition, we are asking that any future screening committee that would consider a marriage amendment endorsement look at whether or not these conditions were met. The specific language for the resolution is below between the dashed lines. We were hoping that the complete text could be printed and available to the members as they sign in tomorrow. David and I are working tomorrow on our very brief presentation.
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Resolution of Support

The Franklin County Democratic Party Central and Executive Committee supports the petition drive for Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment provided that:

1. Reliable polling shows that 52% of likely Ohio voters, in the year in which it will be on the ballot, will vote for the language of the amendment.

2. That the coalitions of Freedom to Marry Ohio and Why Marriage Matters Ohio commit to pull together their strengths and resources toward successful passage of marriage equality.

We also ask that any future screening committee examine compliance with this Resolution of Support when deciding whether or not to endorse a future marriage equality ballot amendment.

NEW POLL SHOWS HISTORIC SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN OHIO

A new poll released today from Public Policy Polling shows a historically high percentage of Ohioans support marriage equality, with 48% of respondents supporting marriage equality, compared to 42% opposed and 10% undecided.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, the campaign to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to voters, praised the poll. 

“This poll confirms that an increasing number of Ohioans support marriage equality in our state,” James said.

“When voters go to the polls, their choice will be simple: they will see a specific, 46-word amendment.  Our amendment is clear and concise, allowing for marriage equality while also respecting and protecting religious freedom.  Past polling has shown that this is a winning combination, and we’re confident that support for our amendment will only continue to grow.”

FREEDOMOHIO APPLAUDS JUDGE BLACK’S ORDER STATE MUST RECOGNIZE SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE

Following Federal Judge Tim Black’s order for state officials to recognize the marriage between John Arthur, who is in hospice care and dying from ALS, and James Obergefell, FreedomOhio’s co-founder Ian James issued the following statement:

“Judge Black’s ruling is historic. John Arthur and Jim Obergefell have shared 20 years of their lives together. They were legally wed on a tarmac in Maryland on July 11 and their marriage should be recognized in Ohio,” James said.

“At this time, in John's dying days, he and his husband Jim deserve to be treated in the same manner as any other married couple, with respect and dignity. Judge Black’s order ensures John’s death certificate will state he was married and list Jim as his surviving spouse,” James said. “We believe this is a fair ruling that treats people with decency. We hope that through the love and loss of John, and the struggles this family endures, that Ohio will realize greater acceptance of marriage equality and the worth of all our citizens.”

JIM PETRO ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

Former Ohio Attorney General and State Auditor Jim Petro has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

In a statement, Petro said:

“Last year, my daughter Corbin married Jessica Gelman in Massachusetts, where same-gender marriages are legal.  They are expecting a child soon, and deserve the same protections guaranteed to other families.  Seeing their happiness, and realizing all the rights they would be denied here in Ohio has proven to me the importance of equal marriage in our state. 

“I’m thoroughly convinced that bringing marriage equality to Ohio is the right thing to do.  This amendment is rooted in a central conservative value, namely, freedom – the freedom to love, the freedom of religion, and the freedom from big government.  I am proud to endorse this amendment.”

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Petro for the endorsement.

“This endorsement shows that the tide is turning in favor of marriage equality in Ohio.  We are grateful that Jim Petro is providing leadership to his fellow Republicans in making the conservative case for marriage equality.  I look forward to seeing this amendment on the ballot in 2014, and with this endorsement, we move one step closer to bringing marriage equality to Ohio.”

FREEDOMOHIO CELEBRATES SCOTUS RULINGS ON DOMA AND PROP 8 VOTERS STILL NEED TO BRING MARRIAGE EQUALITY TO OHIO

Today, in historic rulings, the United States Supreme Court overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and dismissed a case involving California’s Proposition 8 that in effect overturns a ballot initiative in that state to limit the definition of marriage to heterosexual couples.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, the campaign to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to Ohio voters, said, “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.

CANTON CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, CLERGY AND STARK COUNTY BLACK CAUCUS ENDORSE MARRIAGE EQUALITY AMENDMENT

Members of Canton City Council, local clergy leaders and the Stark County Black Caucus announced their endorsement of the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment at a press conference at Canton City Hall today.

Canton City Council President Allen Schulman said “the time has come to treat all loving couples equally under the law. This is a fairness and a family security issue.”

Pastor C. David Morgan, a co-chairman of the Freedom To Marry Faith Steering Committee, said, “the amendment gives a loving couple the freedom to go to city hall and get a marriage license. At the same time, the amendment protects religious freedoms. Houses of worship are free to recognize or not recognize, marry or not marry, same-gender couples.”

Elder G.L. Evans II, Stark County Black Caucus President, said, “marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time. We are committed to helping to pass this amendment to bring marriage equality to Ohio.”

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked the Canton area political, civic and religious leaders for endorsing the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

“This is a great day in Canton, the bellwether of Ohio and the nation, and we cannot thank these great leaders enough for their support,” James said.

For more information, go to www.freedomohio.com.

LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS (LULAC) ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY & RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) plans to endorse the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment tomorrow at its Ohio state convention being held in Cincinnati.

“We believe that marriage discrimination should not be tolerated. Since our organization began, we have fought for the equality of all minorities,” said Lourdes Ribera, State Director, LULAC Ohio. “Everyone should be free to marry the person they love and be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We also support the idea that religious institutions are free to recognize or not recognize, perform or not perform, same-gender marriages.”

LULAC was formed to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population in the United States. LULAC believes that everyone should be able to walk the pathway to citizenship equally so that families can stay united.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, welcomed the endorsement from LULAC.

 “We want to thank our brothers and sisters in the Latino community for supporting our efforts to bring marriage equality to Ohio. LULAC’s leaders understand this is a civil rights issue and that we must stand together to ensure everyone is treated equitably,” James said.

“Support for our amendment continues to grow. Each day, we see more and more people coming to our website – www.freedomohio.com - for more information. A recent Saperstein poll shows that 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom ballot issue,” James said.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 900 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.

COLLEGE DEMOCRATS OF OHIO ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The College Democrats of Ohio (CDO) voted to endorse the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment Wednesday evening.

“This is the civil rights issue of our time. This amendment, 46 simple words, will end marriage discrimination and protect religious freedoms at the same time,” said Nick Tuell, CDO Vice-President of the College Democrats of Ohio.

“A loving couple can go to the courthouse and get married so they can enjoy family security. At the same time, houses of worship are free to choose to recognize or not recognize, perform or not perform, same-gender marriages,” said Tuell, a senior at Ohio University.

Shannon Welch, CDO Campaign Director and a senior at Ohio University and President of the OU College Dems, said, “our generation is inspired and motivated to see that same-gender couples will have the right to marry in every state in the nation.”

“We support the effort to collect signatures and place this issue before voters and we are confident that a majority of Ohioans will support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment,” Welch said.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked the CDO for the endorsement.

“The Quinnipiac Poll released today demonstrates Ohioans support same-gender marriage. We believe our amendment will attract even more voters because when Ohioans understand they can support marriage equality while also respecting and protecting their houses of worship,” James said.

“A recent Saperstein Poll conducted for the Columbus Dispatch demonstrates that 54% of respondents support our amendment while that number rises to 73% among 18-34 year-olds. This next generation of leaders, represented by Nick, Shannon and College Democrats all across this state, are going to play a historic role in ending marriage discrimination,” James said.

Lucas County Commissioner

LUCAS COUNTY FIRST BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
TO ENDORSE OHIO'S FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

TOLEDO – The Lucas County Board of Commissioners has become the first of Ohio’s 88 county boards to endorse the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

The amendment will promote family stability by allowing loving couples to be legally married.  As the Board’s endorsement resolution stated, “Marriage is a public statement of commitment and love between two people and is made to allow the two to best care for and protect themselves and their families.”

The Board also recognized the importance of religious freedom in the amendment’s text, saying, “The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment respects religious institutions of all types and retains the freedom of religious institutions to determine whom to marry and which marriages to perform in their own congregations and buildings.”

A recent poll by FreedomOhio showed 54% of Ohioans support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment. 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked the Board for the endorsement.  “This endorsement represents a new step forward for our amendment, both because of its powerfully supportive language and because Lucas County is the first Board of Commissioners to endorse the amendment.  A majority of Ohioans support this amendment, so we are confident that other County Boards across the state will join Lucas County by endorsing us soon.  We believe that as more and more people consider this civil rights issue that we will attract increasing support to end marriage discrimination in Ohio,” James said.

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AS GOES OHIO SO GOES THE NATION U.S. SEN. MARK KIRK, R-ILL. BACKS MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, applauded Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, for being the second GOP member of the U.S. Senate to support marriage equality.

“As goes Ohio so goes the nation. Two weeks ago, Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman announced his support for marriage equality and today his colleague Mark Kirk from Illinois becomes the second Republican in the U.S. Senate to join him. We believe that with each passing day more and more leaders will embrace the civil rights issue of our generation and call for an end to marriage discrimination,” James said.

“We still must change the Ohio Constitution to give a same-gender loving couple the right to go to city hall and get a marriage license so they can protect and provide for one another and their family. At the same time, our clear and simple 46-word amendment protects religious freedom by guaranteeing that houses of worship can choose to marry or not marry, recognize or not recognize, a same-gender marriage,” James said.

ASHLAND COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Ashland County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Paula Watson, Ashland County Democratic Party chairperson, said, “our support for LGBT rights has been unwavering and this is the civil rights issue of our time.”

 

“The Ashland County Democratic Party endorses the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment because it provides a loving couple with the opportunity to go to the Courthouse and be legally married,” Watson said. “At the same time, this amendment respects religious freedom. Religious institutions are free to choose to marry or not marry, perform or not perform, same-gender marriages.”

 

An economic impact study commissioned by FreedomOhio found same-gender marriages performed in Ashland County would generate approximately $200,000 for the local economy in the first three years after the amendment is approved.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Chairperson Watson and the Ashland County Democratic Party for the endorsement.

 

“Everywhere you turn in Ashland County, you meet kind, caring and loving people. We thank you for your support. We have volunteers in Ashland County going to our website – www.freedomohio.com - and downloading petitions to collect signatures and we can’t thank them enough for their hard work to bring marriage equality to Ohio,” James said.

STATEMENT ON COLUMBUS DISPATCH POLL FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT PASSING 54-40

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, issued the following statement after the Columbus Dispatch published results of a Saperstein Poll that shows 54 percent of voters now support our Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

“We are heartened and affirmed by today’s poll published in the Columbus Dispatch because we have witnessed the seismic shift in public opinion toward marriage equality while working for more than a year to have a conversation with Ohioans and collect signatures in all 88 counties,” James said.

 

“It is important to note that the Dispatch poll was conducted prior to Republican Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s announcement that he was switching his position and supporting the freedom to marry,” James said. “This is a civil rights issue. A loving couple should be able to get legally married and enjoy the same family security as any other committed couple. At the same time, our amendment protects religious freedom because houses of worship are free to choose whether to recognize or not recognize, marry or not marry, a same-gender couple.”

 

Read the Dispatch story:

 

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/03/24/poll-ohio-marriage-views-shift.html

 

FREEDOMOHIO STATEMENT ON GOV. JOHN KASICH’S COMMENTS ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, issued the following statement today after reading Gov. John Kasich’s comments(included below) on the civil rights issue of our generation - marriage equality.

 

“I hope Gov. Kasich understands civil unions are banned by the Ohio Constitution as well and they are a cruel substitute for legal marriage. 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 marriage equality,” James said.

 

“Our simple, balanced and constitutional, 46-word Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment will permit the Governor's gay friends and other loving same-gender couples to get married at the courthouse. At the same time, our amendment respects and protects houses of worship by letting them decide if they wish to perform or not perform, recognize or not recognize, a marriage,” James said. 

“Gov. Kasich has close friends and political advisors who are gay. Has he truly listened to them, looked into their eyes and then into his own heart, and asked himself the same type of questions that his fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman pondered about equality, fairness and family?”


Below is the media report regarding Gov. Kasich's support for civil unions:

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Gov. John Kasich Wednesday said while he supports civil unions for same sex couples, he remains opposed to same sex marriage.

The comments came in response to the reversal on same sex marriage by fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman earlier this week after revealing his son Will, 21, was gay.

Kasich was asked if he could imagine a situation that might cause him to change his position.

“I really can't see one, I mean, I talked to Rob and encouraged him,” Kasich said. “If people want to have civil unions and have some way to transfer their resources, I'm for that. I don't support gay marriage. ”

“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. ”

 “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," Kasich said.


JEN TYRRELL, CUB SCOUT MOM DISMISSED FOR BEING GAY, JOINS FREEDOMOHIO AS STEERING COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR ZACH WAHLS, MY TWO MOMS AUTHOR, BACKS AMENDMENT

Jen Tyrrell, the Cub Scout Mom from Bridgeport who was dismissed for being gay, has joined the effort to bring marriage equality to Ohio as a FreedomOhio Steering Committee co-chairwoman.

 

At a press conference Tuesday, Tyrrell explained how she was dismissed from her role as a Cub Scout mom in Bridgeport, Ohio because she was gay.

 

I know first-hand the pain of having your basic rights denied. For this reason, I’m joining the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom campaign as a co-chair of the Steering Committee,” Tyrrell said. “We’re talking about changing the Ohio Constitution with just 46 words so that a loving couple can get married legally. And the beauty of this amendment is that it also guarantees religious freedom as well. Religious institutions will be free to choose to marry or not marry.”

 

Joining Tyrrell at the press conference via telephone was Zach Wahls, the author of My Two Moms, who became a national advocate for LGBT rights and appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show after delivering a stirring speech to the Iowa House of Representatives.

 

“Jen is a great mom and a loving spouse. Like my moms, she was a tremendous den mother--a mama grizzly, if you will,” Wahls said. “This amendment is about marriage, faith and family. As an Iowan, I know folks out east are always mixing up Ohio and Iowa, but none of us are confused when it comes to protecting our families, and that's what this is all about."

FREEDOM TO MARRY OHIO THANKS U.S. SEN. ROB PORTMAN FOR SUPPORTING MARRIAGE EQUALITY

FreedomOhio, the campaign to bring a Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to voters, wants to thank U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, for endorsing marriage equality.

 

“The honorable U.S. Sen. Portman is the first Republican member of the United States Senate to endorse the freedom to marry, but we believe he will not be the last,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder.

 

Sen. Portman made his announcement Thursday evening, and said he changed his mind on the issue after his college-aged son told him and his wife that he was gay.

 

“We are moved by the love and support U.S. Sen. Portman and his wife are showing their son,” James said. “We appreciate the fact that the Senator wants his son to be able to marry and form a family to find the same happiness and security as his parents.”

 

“Each day you can feel the momentum building toward ending marriage discrimination in Ohio. We are going to work even harder with our wonderful volunteers across the state to collect the signatures needed to put this amendment before voters,” James said.

MORGAN COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Morgan County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Claire Farnsworth, Morgan County Democratic Party chairperson, said, “the amendment is balanced and fair. It gives a loving couple the right and freedom to marry. Religious freedom is respected as well. Religious institutions have the freedom to decide whether to perform or recognize these marriages or not.”

 

An economic impact study commissioned by FreedomOhio found same-gender marriages performed in Morgan County would generate more than $26,000 for the local economy in the first three years after the amendment is approved.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Chairperson Farnsworth and the Morgan County Democratic Party for the endorsement.

 

“We can’t thank the good people of Morgan County enough for their support. We can feel the momentum growing and the support deepening for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment in Ohio,” James said.

WAYNE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Wayne County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Betsy Sheets, Wayne County Democratic Party chairwoman, said, “we support this amendment because a loving couple should have the freedom to marry regardless of gender. The amendment also guarantees freedom of religious choice. It will be up to the religious institution to decide to perform or recognize a same-gender marriage or not.”

 

An economic impact study commissioned by FreedomOhio found same-gender marriages performed in Wayne County would generate about $344,000 for the local economy in the first three years after the amendment is approved.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Chairwoman Sheets and the Wayne County Democratic Party for the endorsement.

 

“This is a tremendous boost for our effort to collect signatures and place the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment before voters,” James said. “Our movement is growing by the moment and we pledge to the good people in Wayne County we will not stop until we have marriage equality in Ohio,” James said.

WARREN COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Warren County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Bethe Goldenfield, Warren County Democratic Party chairwoman, said “we support the amendment because it gives a loving couple the right to marry and provides security to their family, as well as to the community. At the same time, religious institutions have the freedom to decide whether to perform or recognize these marriages or not.”

 

An economic impact study commissioned by FreedomOhio found same-gender marriages performed in Warren County would generate more than $1 million for the local economy in the first three years after the amendment is approved.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Chairwoman Goldenfield and the Warren County Democratic Party for the endorsement.

 

“We have had tremendous success collecting signatures in Warren County because the good people there understand marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time. They believe, as a growing number of Ohioans believe, that a loving couple, regardless of gender, should have the right to marry, form a strong family and care for one another,” James said.

MAHONING COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Mahoning County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, said, “It is time for all Ohioans to stand up for the rights of loving couples to enter legally into marriage. This is the civil rights issue of our time. This amendment also respects religious freedom. Religious institutions are free to recognize and perform same-gender marriages, or not.”

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Chairman Betras and the Mahoning County Democratic Party for the endorsement.

 

“The great people of the Mahoning Valley understand how important it is to take a strong stand for marriage rights,” James said. “We know we can depend on the fair-minded people of the Youngstown area to help us collect signatures and end marriage discrimination in this state,” James said.

MUSLIMS FOR PROGRESSIVE VALUES ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY & RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AMENDMENT

Muslims for Progressive Values, a national organization, has endorsed the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment in Ohio that would end marriage discrimination while protecting the freedom of religious institutions to choose to perform and recognize same-gender marriages or not.

 

Ani Zonneveld, Muslims for Progressive Values President and co-founder, said her organization strongly supports LGBT rights.

 

“We are pleased to stand strong with our LGBT sisters and brothers in Ohio as they strike the perfect balance with their Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment,” Zonneveld said. “This is a civil and basic humans rights issue. A loving couple should have the freedom to marry for family security. This amendment also protects the freedom of a religious institution to recognize or not recognize the couple’s marriage.”

 

Muslims for Progressive Values, formed in 2007, is an inclusive organization that stands for the ideals of human dignity and social justice. The organization focuses on discussing, promoting and working for the implementation of progressive values – human rights, freedom of expression, separation of church and state – as well as the inclusive and tolerant understanding of Islam.

 

Muslims for Progressive Values has supported marriage equality nationally in cooperation with the Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call to Justice and the organization was also active in the fight against California’s Proposition 8.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked Muslims for Progressive Values for their endorsement.

 

“We are gaining more and more support from the inter-faith community because this amendment protects religious freedom while giving same-gender couples the right to marry, form and protect their families and pursue life, liberty and happiness,” James said.

BOOED SOLDIER STEPHEN SNYDER-HILL AND HUSBAND JOSH TO CO-CHAIR FREEDOM TO MARRY OHIO STEERING COMMITTEE

Stephen Snyder-Hill, the soldier booed at the Republican Presidential primary debate in Florida in 2011 for posing a question about LGBT rights, and his husband Josh announced today they will co-chair the Freedom To Marry Ohio Steering Committee.

 

“I love my country and I believe this nation is becoming more loving, more tolerant and more accepting. More and more people are coming to understand this is a basic civil rights issue and a human rights issue,” Stephen Snyder-Hill said. “The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment is only 46 words. It would let me marry Josh and at the same respect a religious institution’s freedom to recognize and perform our wedding or not.”

 

Josh Snyder-Hill said he looks forward to working with Steve on the Steering Committee to engage partners, allies, supporters and volunteers in the effort to collect signatures to place the issue before voters as early as November.

 

“I don’t think of Steve as a gay soldier. When he puts on his uniform for our country, he is a soldier,” Josh Snyder-Hill said. “If Steve had to spend time in a military hospital, legally I would be recognized as a member of his family. This is wrong, on so many fronts.”

 

Former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, thanked Josh and Steve for their commitment to the Freedom To Marry Ohio movement.

 

The Hill-Snyder announcement follows an endorsement from the American Military Partner Association, a national organization representing partners and spouses of LGBT service members. Earlier this week, Greg Schultz, former Obama For America state director in Ohio, came on board as a FreedomOhio Executive Committee board member.

 

“We have a great deal of work ahead of us to pass this amendment, but the job is a lot easier when you are surrounded by a growing circle of friends and supporters,” Kilroy said.

CINCINNATI FAITH AND COMMUNITY LEADERS SUPPORT FREEDOM TO MARRY OHIO

Local faith and community leaders stood up for marriage equality today by supporting the proposed Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Pastor Mike Underhill of the Nexus United Church of Christ in Butler County said the UCC was the first major Christian denomination to support marriage equality.

 

“All people have the right to lead lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent and pleasure,” Pastor Underhill said.

 

Rabbi Miriam Terlinchamp of Temple Sholom said the U.S. Constitution safeguards liberties and prohibits discrimination.

 

“Our faith in God and in humanity can only be realized by taking action against injustice and pursuing equal rights and treatment for one another,” Rabbit Terlinchamp said.

 

Pamela K. Taylor, who helped form Muslims for Progressive Values, said, “the Prophet Muhammed taught us to want for others what we want for ourselves. As human beings who want our most precious relationships to be recognized and honored, we cannot help but want the same for other human beings.”

 

Mike Moroski, recently fired from his teaching job for supporting LGBT rights, said, “I’m elated to stand here today with these wonderful faith leaders, who truly, deeply, and spiritually believe that two people who love one another deserve the right to be married.”

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, said volunteers continue to collect signatures to place the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment on the ballot as soon as November.

 

“Our balanced amendment gives a loving same-gender couple the right to marry while respecting a religious institution’s freedom to choose to recognize and perform that marriage or not,” James said

FORMER OFA STATE DIRECTOR GREG SCHULTZ JOINS FREEDOM TO MARRY EFFORT IN OHIO

Greg Schultz, former Obama for America (OFA) State Director, has joined FreedomOhio’s Executive Committee to help pass the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

“Every adult should be permitted to marry the one he or she loves. As a member of the FreedomOhio Executive Committee, I look forward to collaborating with LGBT, Civil Rights, faith and business leaders to ensure we pass this vital Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment,” Schultz said

 

Ben Deutschle, Chairman of FreedomOhio’s Executive Committee, said, “Greg Schultz brings extensive statewide organizing skills and contacts to our movement and his strategic vision and campaign experience will be invaluable in our efforts to end marriage discrimination in Ohio.”

 

Schultz served as state director for Obama for America for President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012 and he also worked to overturn House Bill 194, the legislative effort to restrict early voting hours and locations.

 

Schultz recently was named Vice-President of Business Forward, a non-profit representing many of America’s largest and most respected companies, to identify, recruit and brief small business owners, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs about meaningful ways to participate in policy debates.

 

FreedomOhio is the campaign committee that is collecting signatures to place the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment before voters. The amendment would end marriage discrimination in Ohio while ensuring religious institutions are free to choose to recognize and perform same-gender marriages or not.

CELEBRATING VALENTINE’S DAY A RALLY FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY

On Valentine’s Day, as couples across Ohio celebrate their love for each other, marriage equality supporters will rally outside the Franklin County Courthouse to bring attention to the need to pass the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

The rally will be take place from 2 to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Valentine’s Day, at 373 S. High Street in Columbus. Couples obtain marriage licenses on the 22ndfloor of the county building.

 

“More and more Ohioans are opening their hearts on this Valentine’s Day to support marriage equality. If two people love and dedicate their lives to one another, then they should have the right to lawfully marry,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder. “At the same time, religious institutions should have the freedom to recognize or not recognize these marriages.”

 

FreedomOhio and GetEqual Ohio members are going to collect signatures for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment during the rally.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Montgomery County Democratic Party has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Mark Owens, Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman, said, “we support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment because a loving couple should have the same rights as all couples to marry and form a secure family.”

 

“This amendment also respects religious freedom as well. Religious institutions are free to choose whether to perform or recognize same-gender marriages or not,” Owens said.

 

An economic impact study commissioned by FreedomOhio found same-gender marriages performed in Montgomery County would generate more than $5.8 million for the local economy in the first three years after the amendment is approved.

 

“We want to thank Chairman Owens and the Montgomery County Democratic Party for their endorsement. This is the civil rights issue of our time and there has been a seismic shift toward supporting the freedom to marry in Ohio,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder.

CENTER FOR BLACK EQUITY ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Center for Black Equity (CBE), an international organization committed to achieving equality and social justice for the Black LGBT community, has endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Center for Black Equity President Earl Fowlkes, said “the Freedom to Marry is a human rights, a civil rights and a basic fairness issue. We are proud to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters as they work toward one day soon ending marriage discrimination in Ohio.”

 

“The Center for Black Equity is deeply committed to achieving equality and justice for the Black LGBT community,” President Fowlkes said. “The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment in Ohio would be a huge step forward because it ensures our LGBT families are secure and at the same time respects a religious institution’s freedom to choose to perform or recognize a same-gender marriage or not.”

 

“We are grateful to President Fowlkes and the Center for Black Equity for its endorsement,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder. “Each day, the Freedom to Marry movement in Ohio grows stronger through the support of individual volunteers and great state, national and international organizations such as the Center for Black Equity.

 

The Center for Black Equity, formerly known as the International Federation of Black Prides, was formed in 1999 and has more than 400,000 supporters in the United States and abroad. The Center for Black Equity works with a global network of LGBT individuals, allies and community-based organizations dedicated to achieving equality and social justice for Black LGBT communities.

FORMER OSU FOOTBALL SCHOLAR ATHLETE SIMON FRASER ENDORSES MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN OHIO

Simon Fraser, a three-time scholar athlete and star on the 2002 National Championship Ohio State Buckeye football team, announced he supports the Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

 

“Now is the time to end marriage discrimination in Ohio. Among great American traditions are: equal treatment under the law and religious freedom for all. These principles do not conflict, but exist in harmony. This amendment respects a religion’s right to recognize or not recognize marriages while putting all Ohioans on equal footing. I support the Amendment and ask my fellow Ohioans to do the same,” Fraser said.

 

Fraser, who played for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons after being a co-captain at Ohio State, is among more than two dozen current and former professional athletes and political leaders to call for marriage equality, including Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe and former NBA great Charles Barkley.

 

Ian James, Freedom Ohio co-founder, said support continues to grow for granting each loving couple the right to commit to one another and look out for their family.

 

“We are grateful to positive role models like Simon Fraser who are standing with us as we charge down the field together toward victory for all loving couples,” James said.

COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 4501 ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The Communications Workers of American (CWA) Ohio Chapter 4501 in Columbus, Ohio endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

“For more than a decade, CWA has supported civil marriage equality in pursuit of social justice as a matter of fairness. The Ohio Freedom to Marry Amendment provides needed benefits and protections for workers and their families who are denied the right to a civil marriage,” said Rich Murray, President of Communications Workers of America Local 4501.

 

“CWA Local 4501’s endorsement of Ohio’s Freedom to Marry amendment continues our time honored support and work to guarantee equality for all,” Murray said.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked the CWA 4501 for the endorsement.

 

“We are so grateful that our brothers and sisters, the Communications Workers of America, are stepping up and demonstrating they believe it is time to end marriage discrimination in Ohio,” James said.

NATIONAL LGBT VETERAN’S ORGANIZATION ENDORSES FREEDOM TO MARRY AMENDMENT

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) has joined the growing list of local, state and national organizations and leaders to endorse the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked the AMPA for the endorsement.

 

“This is the nation’s premier network for the partners and spouses of LGBT service members. These are the silent heroes who support the men and women who put their lives on the line so we can enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by our Democracy,” James said. “We are grateful for their support and more importantly honored by these wonderful families and their distinguished service to our country.”

 

“The American Military Partner Association supports the Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment because it is critically important that all military families have the security that a legal marriage brings to a loving couple and the children they are raising,” said Stephen Peters, President of AMPA and spouse of an active duty Marine. “Our service members put their lives on the line each and every day. We owe it to them to reassure their spouses and children that they are given the same legal protections afforded other married couples in the Armed Forces.”

 

“We continue to collect signatures to end marriage discrimination in Ohio, and the endorsement from the AMPA reinforces our resolve to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to voters,” James said.

 

For more information about the American Military Partner Association, go to their website at:

 

http://militarypartners.org/ 

Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara endorses Freedom To Marry

Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara endorsed the Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom amendment today.

 

“This is a thoughtfully-crafted amendment to the Ohio Constitution that gives a loving couple, regardless of gender, the freedom to marry. At the same time, the amendment ensures religious institutions have the freedom to choose to recognize or not recognize same-gender marriages,” McNamara said. “Marriage equality is this generation’s civil rights moment and I strongly endorse the Freedom To Marry.”

 

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, thanked McNamara for endorsing marriage equality.

 

“All couples, regardless of gender, deserve the right to marry and to ensure their family’s security. We are grateful to Toledo Council President McNamara for standing up for civil rights, family security, and religious freedom in Ohio,” James said.

SCOTUS to Review National DOMA and Marriage Equality in California

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for deciding to review the constitutionality of the federal so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
 
“We are confident the U.S. Supreme Court will look at the federal law and rule the true defense of marriage is to let a loving couple commit to a lifetime of love and family security,” James said. “Still, we are mindful that this case does nothing to overturn Ohio’s DOMA law or Ohio’s 2004 Marriage Ban Amendment so we will continue to collect signatures, and engage voters so Ohio couples will have the Freedom To Marry.”
 
The U.S. Supreme Court will also hear a case filed to reverse the U.S. Court of Appeals (Ninth Circuit) decision to overturn California’s Proposition 8 that clears the way for same-gender marriages in The Golden State. The Ninth Circuit ruling, left alone, would have cleared a procedural hurdle to once again allow same gender couples to marry in California.
 
“The U.S. Supreme Court has a golden opportunity to affirm marriage equality, civil rights and family security in California,” Jame said. “We are confident we are on the right side of history. The court will rule by June, about the time we will decide whether to bring the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment to Ohio voters as soon as November, 2013. We are 4-0 following voters standing-up for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state. It’s time for more victories.”

A Tale of Two States

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, toasted loving couples in Washington state today for being able to marry regardless of gender.

 

“The same civil rights afforded citizens of Washington should be afforded citizens of every state, including Ohio,” James said. “We are encouraged by recent victories in efforts to end marriage discrimination, but our work will be unfinished until we pass the Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom amendment in Ohio.”

 

Volunteers for the Freedom To Marry movement continue to collect signatures to place an amendment before voters as early as November, 2013.

 

“As of today, in Washington, a loving couple can now get married, make a lifetime commitment and ensure their family is secure. We celebrate their victory today and go back to work for Ohioans tomorrow.”

Full Steam Ahead For Freedom To Marry Ohio 4 Signifies Shift For Equal Marriage Rights

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, said the four victories for marriage equality across the country in Tuesday’s elections proves there has been a seismic shift in public opinion on the Freedom To Marry.

“For the first time in U.S. history, voters affirmed marriage rights for everyone by approving the freedom to marry in Maine, Maryland and Washington,” James said. “In Minnesota voters rejected an effort to continue to inflict continued and unnecessary the tired and mean-spirited rhetoric that has caused so many individuals and families deep personal and financial pain.”

“We believe Ohio voters are open to an ongoing discussion about the need to provide equal marriage rights to all loving couples. We believe Ohioans understand our amendment protects their religious rights at the same time. So we are going to continue to collect signatures with an eye on next November,” James said.

FreedomOhio Applauds Federal Court Rejection of Doma

FreedomOhio applauded the ruling today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the constitutionally guaranteed right for all couples to marry under the equal protection clause.

FreedomOhio is collecting signatures to place the Freedom To Marry and Religious Amendment to end marriage discrimination in Ohio.

Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder, said “today’s federal appeals court ruling has placed the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on life support. The U.S. Supreme Court will now consider this important issue and determine DOMA’s fate.”

“The federal DOMA forbids allowing governmental recognition of civil marriage. The demise of the federal DOMA will not resolve Ohio’s ban on marriage equality. For this reason, we will soldier on, collect our petition signatures and win the right for committed and loving couples to be married so they can better care for and protect their families. That is ultimately why marriage matters and we look to have this issue on the ballot as soon as November, 2013,” James said.

Washington Post Poll Reinforces Shift In Ohio Support For Marriage Equality Growing

Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom in Ohio volunteers are working even harder after being heartened by a new Washington Post poll that found a majority of state voters, by a 52-37 percent margin, now support marriage equality.

“A growing majority of Ohio voters support the Freedom To Marry and Religious Freedom amendment that allows a loving and committed couple to have the right to marry so they can better care for and take care of their family,” said Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder.

James said the hard work of campaign volunteers is paying off as the poll numbers have flipped in the past year.

“The Washington Post poll reinforces what we have already seen in other polls. This is not an anomaly. This is another indicator the time is right and Ohioans are more fully understanding that marriage equality is a civil right whose time has come,” James said

Volunteers have collected signatures in every county in the state.The FreedomOhio Executive Committee will decide next June if the time is right and the support is there to move forward with placing the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment before voters in November, 2013.

“We will continue to have a positive dialogue with Ohio voters to explain why marriage equality matters at the same time our volunteers step up their efforts to collect signatures and identify our supporters in every precinct in the state,” James said.

To see the WP poll: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/poll-support-grows-for-same-sex-marriage-in-florida-ohio-and-virginia/2012/10/09/969bea0e-1220-11e2-be82-c3411b7680a9_story.html   

Freedom To Marry And Religious Freedom Plank In Democratic National Convention Platform

The FreedomOhio movement wants to thank the Democratic Party for adopting a Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom plank in their platform during their national convention in Charlotte.

“The Democrats are gathering in Charlotte and one of the first items on their agenda is supporting the basic, inherent right for all loving couples to marry, regardless of gender,” said Ben Deutschle, President of the Freedom to Marry executive committee. “We are grateful for this tremendous demonstration of support from President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats across this accepting nation.”

As Democrats gathered for their four-day convention in Charlotte, the platform committee voted to adopt a plank supporting the freedom to marry. Pres. Barack Obama announced on May 9 that he was joining the growing number of Americans who are standing up for the freedom to marry.

“The way forward is clear. It is wrong to permit one loving couple to marry while denying another loving, committed couple the same right,” said Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio. “This is a great country that has always come together to stand up for the basic rights of our citizens. Today, the Democrats have shone a bright light upon the path to our future.”

The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom movement has collected thousands of signatures toward putting an amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot no sooner than November, 2013.

The amendment is simple. A loving, caring, committed couple would be allowed to get married in Ohio. At the same, religious institutions would be free to choose to recognize or not recognize the marriage.

Green Party Of Ohio Endorses Freedom To Marry And Religious Freedom Amendment

The Green Party of Ohio has endorsed the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment.

“Equality for all within the LGBT community has long been a part of the Green Party’s platform, in keeping with the party’s key values of diversity and social justice,” said Sean Nestor, Green Party of Ohio Secretary.

Nestor said the Green Party is encouraging their members in hopes of realizing success in the campaign.

He added the Green Party applauds efforts to repeal discriminatory laws against the LGBT community that denies them equal status regarding housing, jobs, civil marriage, child custody and tax treatment.

FreedomOhio Co-founder Ian James welcomed the Green Party’s endorsement.

“We thank the Green Party for their support. The Freedom to Marry movement is growing day by day, hour by hour,” James said.

Freedom To Marry Would Stimulate Ohio Economy Study Finds $100-$126 Million In Economic Activity

A new study on the economic impact of giving each loving couple the Freedom to Marry indicates Ohio’s Gross Domestic Product would increase by $100-$126 million in the first three years.

“Ohio has 19,700 same-gender couples and my study conservatively estimates $100 to $126 million in new dollars for Ohio if the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment would be adopted,” said Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC.

LaFayette’s study estimates include a county by county analysis based on the number of same gender couples living there. https://freedomohio.com/economicimpact/

“There are about 31,000 same-gender couples living in adjoining states. The study does not put a dollar figure on the economic impact of these couples holding weddings in Ohio, but states like New York and Massachusetts are raking in millions of dollars from out-of-state couples and their wedding guests,” LaFayette said.

Mary Ernst McColgan, owner of Rose Bredl Flowers in Columbus, said the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment would be good for all wedding-related businesses in Ohio.

“As a small business owner, there are two or more other wedding-related businesses within view of my shop. This is good for Ohio jobs and good for Ohio’s economy,” McColgan said.

Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, said Ohio has a chance to be a true leader and keep weddings in the state.

“We can stop exporting weddings and watching dollars leave Ohio,” Kilroy said. “There has been a seismic shift in public opinion on accepting the Freedom to Marry. This is a great opportunity for Ohio to be a leader and to improve our economy as well.”

National Gay Rights Group Endorses Freedom to Marry Ohio Effort to End Marriage Discrimination

Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, announced today that the national gay rights group, GetEQUAL, has endorsed the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom movement in Ohio. This is the first time the national group has endorsed a ballot issue and is FreedomOhio's first national endorsement.


In a letter to FreedomOhio, GetEQUAL Executive Director Robin McGehee, said her board of directors voted unanimously to endorse the Freedom to Marry campaign to ask voters as soon as November, 2013 to amend the Ohio Constitution to end marriage discrimination.


"We are delighted to support your coalition," McGehee said. "We know that thousands of LGBT people have been energized by this campaign in the Buckeye State and we wish you success."


Kilroy welcomed the endorsement by GetEQUAL's national board of directors.


"GetEQUAL's endorsement is a huge boost to our all-volunteer effort. To date, we have collected signatures in 84 of Ohio's 88 counties through an all-volunteer effort and we are simultaneously registering Ohioans to vote," Kilroy said.


"The polls, the politicians and the leaders in this state and nation are starting to reflect what we have seen at the grass roots level for months: People understand the freedom to marry is a basic right that no one should be denied."

Freedom To Marry Applauds President Obama For Endorsing Marriage Equality

 Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama's announcement today that he supports marriage equality.


"This is great news. We are thrilled to hear that Pres. Obama is standing up for the right of every couple, regardless of gender, to have the freedom to marry. More and more people are realizing, like our president, that in Ohio and America we are a just people who want everyone to be treated fairly," Kilroy said.


President Obama announced Wednesday afternoon that he supports marriage equality, the freedom to marry, and bringing an end to marriage discrimination.


The president's announcement follows statements earlier this week from Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Caroline Kennedy supporting freedom to marry. In addition, former Pres. Jimmy Carter has called for marriage equality and has joined a growing list of public figures calling for an end to marriage discrimination.

Court The Vote

Freedom To Marry is coming to you with our "Court the Vote" campaign.


Each Saturday, we will collect signatures at a county courthouse from noon to 2 p.m.


When you run a volunteer initiative petition drive, many people   want to circulate booklets and even more ask, "Where can I sign?"


Well, we want to make it easy and fun for our volunteers and supporters to gather signatures.


We're going to kickoff the "Court the Vote" campaign this Saturday, May 5, in Athens at the Athens County Courthouse.


We'll have a table right outside the Courthouse on the sidewalk so please come down and join us. We chose Athens as our first stop because it was the only county in 2004 where a majority of voters rejected the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.


Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, said recently, "we know there are thousands of people who support the freedom to marry and religious freedom amendment and we want to make it easy for them to find a petition to sign."


Our circulators will have booklets to take signatures from all counties that share a common border with Athens County. They include Washington, Meigs, Vinton, Hocking, Perry and Morgan counties.


This isn't all we're doing to collect signatures. We have more than 1,500-plus volunteers hitting the streets each day and on weekends all across the state. Still, we know our "Court the Vote" campaign will allow us to visit and collect signatures in all 88 counties so we can collect the 385,245 valid signatures we'll need to be on the ballot as soon as November, 2013.


Voters want to sign our petition and they want to know where to sign so we are going to be posting our "Court the Vote" campaign stops on our website at www.freedomohio.com and on our Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FreedomToMarryOH.


We've been inspired by the great people who have stepped forward to stand with us as we work to end marriage discrimination and give each loving couple the freedom to marry.


So look for the "Court the Vote" banner like the one on this page and sign our petition.

Freedom to Marry Movement Gets Green Light to End Marriage Discrimination in Ohio

The Freedom To Marry movement announced today they have been given the green light to end marriage discrimination by asking voters to amend the Ohio Constitution to allow two consenting adults to marry one another.


Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved the summary language for the ballot today after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reported Freedom To Marry had exceeded the 1,000 signatures needed by turning in 1,574 valid signatures. (Read the approval letter here. )


The proposed amendment, which now goes to the Ohio Ballot Board for review, would recognize the freedom of two individuals to marry regardless of gender, and the freedom of religious organizations to refuse to perform or recognize same gender marriage.


Mary Jo Kilroy, CEO for FreedomOhio, thanked the many volunteers who gathered the initial round of signatures that were validated by the Secretary of State's office.


"Our volunteers are excited to learn of this approval and looking forward to the anticipated green light from the ballot board. We believe that loving couples, whether of the opposite gender or the same gender, should have the right to marry and share their lives and love."


Freedom To Marry Coalition Chairman Tim Hagan said, "The people of this state also understand this is an economic issue and we need all the good paying jobs we can attract and keep in this state. By making Ohio a Freedom To Marry state, we are sending a message that this is a warm and welcoming place to come, live, fall in love, marry and make a great life for yourself, your spouse and your children."


Rev. Denise Ray Mueller, Diocese of Southern Ohio, said "Freedom To Marry guarantees religious freedom as well. We respect the right of religious institutions to make their own choices about who they marry and what marriages they recognize and perform."


The Freedom To Marry movement has more than 1,400 volunteers ready to begin collecting the 385,245 valid signatures needed to place a constitutional amendment before voters in November, 2013.

Freedom to Marry Movement Files Signatures to Begin Drive to End Marriage Discrimination

The Freedom To Marry Ohio movement filed more than 2,380 signatures collected in 60 counties today with the Ohio Attorney General's office to formally begin the drive to end marriage discrimination in Ohio.


"Today marks the first step toward granting two loving people the freedom to marry in Ohio. If you love someone, dedicate your life to that person, spend your days together, care for each other in sickness and health, then you should have the freedom and the right to marry that person," said Mary Jo Kilroy, CEO for Freedom Ohio.


Kilroy said the Freedom To Marry movement will gather more than the 385,245 valid signatures needed to let voters amend the Ohio Constitution to "allow two consenting adults to enter into marriage regardless of gender."


Tim Hagan, Freedom To Marry Ohio chairman, said Ohioans understand this is an economic issue because "we have to make Ohio a welcoming place to live to attract and retain the best and brightest so we can create jobs and strengthen our local communities."


"Ohioans are fair and want to give two adults the freedom to marry. We should honor the best attributes of marriage like love, commitment, and family stability. We should be celebrating and encouraging these enduring relationships," Hagan said.


The proposed amendment recognizes religious freedom as well. Churches will continue to be free to decide who to marry and who not to marry.