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Big Buckeye shift to support 'Marriage Equality' amendment, new poll shows

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The times they are a changing in Ohio, especially for marriage equality advocates and a rising tide of people, maybe 85 percent or more of Buckeyes who according to a new poll released Thursday know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, and are OK with that.

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In 2004, a presidential election year, Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state constitution called the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, 62-38 percent. It preserved in Ohio law "the universal, historic institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and to protect marriage against those who would alter and undermine it."

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The presence of DOMA on the ballot that year, many believe, incentivized Republican voters to turn-out for President George W. Bush. Bush won Ohio and the White House by only about 118,000 votes statewide, an outcome many believe was overtly and covertly rigged by a Republican Secretary of State who among other vote suppression tactics limited voting machines in high Democratic turnout areas and is alleged to have conspired with White House friendly business of President Bush to manipulate votes on new touch screen voting machines.

What happened in 2004 seems destined for a reversal of fortune next year, a gubernatorial election year that pits incumbent Republican Gov. John R. Kasich, who is opposed to gay marriage, against his Democratic candidate and advocate for gay marriage, Ed FitzGerald. If another amendment that would allow same sex couples to marry and give churches the choice to opt out of holding weddings if they want is gaining as much traction as a new poll says is happening, in a center-right state that just nine years ago decisively settled the issue, the changed of heart among Buckeyes on this historically controversial issue could do to Kasich what DOMA did to 2004's Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, hand them a defeat.

Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, said a poll whose results were analyzed by bipartisan experts shows 56 percent of Ohio voters support the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

James told CGE last Saturday in a 60 Seconds Ohio feature that the common sense approach to marriage equality is as simple as allowing two consenting adults the freedom to marry regardless of gender, and allowing houses of worship [i.e. churches, synagogues, mosques, temples] the freedom to refuse to marry a same sex couple. "It's clear, concise and constitutionally sound." James said announcing the survey results.

Petitions supporting the replacement amendment have been circulating for more than a year to gather the 385,000 valid signatures needed by next July to get the issue before voters in November 2014. In an April poll by Quinnipiac University of 1,138 registered voters, 48 percent of Ohioans supported same-sex marriage, while 44 percent said they opposed it.

The shift in sentiment, the survey said, can be attributed to various reasons including how the pop culture has redefined the LGBT community on TV and in movies. Other reasons are the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell, Supreme Court rulings, repeated public support for marriage equality by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. In a state like Iowa, not known as a bastion for social liberals, same sex marriage takes place and corn continues to grow to great heights. Moreover, when Time Magazine's Man of the Year, Pope Francis, says, "Who am I to judge" regarding gays, even Evangelical Christians can read the handwriting on the wall.

The one standout statistic from the poll is that 85 percent of Ohioans know someone in the LGBT community, a statistic that bodes well for backers like James but which may not be so joyful to career politicians like Gov. Kasich who has fumbled his position by falling back on supporting so-called civil unions.

James said the poll confirmed that many more Buckeyes than previously thought are ready to support marriage equality.

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Contributing to the nation's change of heart came in a ruling this year by the United States Supreme Court, which overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, 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.

Former two-term Republican Ohio Attorney General and State Auditor Jim Petro came on board when he endorsed the Ohio Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

Dr. Jim Kitchens, a Democrat, and Robert Carpenter, a Republican, both nationally recognized for having correctly called the DOMA win in 2004, provided FreedomOhio peer review and analysis of the polling data performed by Public Policy Polling, among the nation's most reliable and accurate polling firms.

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The post Big Buckeye shift to support 'Marriage Equality' amendment, new poll shows first appeared on Columbus Government Examiner.

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