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Ohio’s Attorney General certifies ballot language to replace anti-gay marriage amendment

Marriage equality

By Scottie Thomaston

Ohio’s Attorney General Mike DeWine has finally certified the ballot language for an amendment to the state constitution to repeal and replace their anti-gay amendment that currently bans gay and lesbian couples from being able to get married. The new language will state that marriage is “a union of two consenting adults.” The proposed language also clarifies that no religious institution will be required to perform or recognize marriages.

The certification comes after DeWine’s refusal last month to authorize the proposed ballot language. He suggested a few reasons for denying certification at the time:

After reviewing the submission, I conclude that I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment for three reasons. First, the summary is longer than the text of the amendment… Second, the summary states that the amendment retains the rights contained in “Section 11 of Article XV for political subdivisions to not recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals.” However, the text of the amendment does not indicate that political subdivisions would retain these rights. Third, the summary states that the amendment retains “the portions of Title 31 that codifies this Amendment.” However, the text of the amendment does not contain any reference to Title 31.

In today’s statement, DeWine calls the new language fair and truthful:

The group re-submitted its paperwork on March 26 and DeWine today certified the proposal and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment, he said in a news release.

“Without passing on the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred, I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment,” he said in a letter to the petitioners.

Yesterday, it was reported that Cleveland’s NAACP President George Forbes has joined the Freedom to Marry campaign – the group pushing the marriage initiative in Ohio. Forbes noted that he worked to clarify the religious language exempting churches from having to perform services, and said:

“The time is now to grant two loving people the Freedom to Marry,” he said in a written statement.

“Not since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has there been a more important step to achieving equality for all Americans.”

As for the next steps in the amendment process:

DeWine said in a news release that once the summary language and initial signatures are certified the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.

Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the vote cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election.

If successful it will add to the growing list of pro-marriage initiatives on statewide ballots in the upcoming election.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  April 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm


  • 2. Rich  |  April 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Go Ohio! Get those signatures?

  • 3. Rich  |  April 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Oops! Drop that ? and add a, !!!

  • 4. Bob  |  April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    ya get it right,,,, "the time is now" and "not since the civil rights act of 1964 has there been a more important step to achieving equality for all Americans" sounding good

  • 5. TTR  |  April 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Best scenario: they get almost enough signatures (for the publicity and conversations it provokes) without succeeding in getting it on the ballot. Come on, people, really, Ohio?? We're still worrying about Washington, Maryland, and Maine.

  • 6. Adam  |  April 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Great news! As I understand it, however, the Ohio campaign is 'shooting' for the 2013 ballot–not the 2012 ballot. This gives more time to gather the signatures and build greater support in the state. It also allows for a more immediate focus on states like Washington, Maryland, and Maine that will be decided during this upcoming election season. Still, this starts a conversation in Ohio that has not been heard since 2004 when the constitution was originally amended; And that conversation is always a positive, and exciting step forward.

  • 7. Str8Grandmother  |  April 4, 2012 at 8:09 am

    "It also allows for a more immediate focus on states like Washington, Maryland, and Maine that will be decided during this upcoming election season"

    SGM – AND North Carolina. I don't see the point in waiting though. If people in Ohio are motivated, bring it on! If I lived in Ohio I don't think I would want to hear, "Better to wait until it is your turn, we are focused on these other States, so wait another year Buckeyes." It is better to have tried and failed then never to have tried at all.

  • 8. AnonyGrl  |  April 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

    We're winning! We're Winning!!! WE'RE WINNING!!!!!! (and yes, I am doing a happy chair dance as I type this).

    Even if we don't win some of these states… we are winning. We are winning in that the votes are happening, both in legislatures (where they should) and popular votes (where they obviously should not). Votes are HAPPENING, the issue is in front of people, and they are learning why civil rights are important to all families. We are winning and will continue to win, losing a battle here and there, perhaps, but the war, my friends, is ours! We must keep up the fight always, but we are going to win this war, and someday soon, everyone in this country will enjoy the protections and promises that marriage holds.

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