It’s been a big week for advocates of same-sex marriage in Ohio. First, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black issued a ruling Monday that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. On the same day, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved new language for a petition to overturn Ohio’s ban on gay marriage, allowing an effort at a voter referendum to move forward. It's the second petition initiative by FreedomOhio; the group added new language in early April that would overturn the ban while allowing churches and other clergy the right to refuse to participate in the ceremonies. FreedomOhio Director Ian James tells Emily McCord in an interview that Black's decision adds momentum towards legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.
"It keeps the conversation alive," James says. He says keeping the issue is in front of Ohioans leads to a greater understanding of what LGBT families face on daily basis. James adds that he sees support growing in the state.
Ultimately, though, he says the decision should rest with Ohio voters, which is why his group is continuing to push for a ballot measure. "When the court decides these issues, it does boil some blood. When voters decide, it boils blood, but you at least have that public conversation."
James says because Ohio is a battleground state that any decision here will impact the rest of the country.
Marriage equality continues to be a focus for FreedomOhio, but the group is also circulating a petition for the Equal Housing and Employment Opportunity Act to end discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for housing and employment.