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Marriage equality in Ohio will heat up on Valentine's Day

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The origin of Valentine's Day is shrouded in legend. According to one story, St. Valentine was executed in A.D. 270 for secretly performing marriages after Roman Emperor Claudius II tried to bolster his army by forbidding young men to marry.

Gay rights advocates in Ohio are also contending with a marriage ban, enacted in 2004 by 62 percent of voters in the form of a state constitutional amendment.

Ohio may soon join the 17 states that have legalized same-sex marriage. A coalition led by Freedom Ohio is working to amend the Ohio Constitution to repeal the 2004 Marriage Amendment and replace it with language that establishes marriage equality.

Support for gay marriage has steadily grown in the 10 years since Ohio voters banned it. A recent poll found that support for marriage equality depends on voters' knowledge of specifics:

  • Support for marriage equality as a general concept is almost dead even: 47 percent of voters support it and 48 percent oppose it.
  • When given the specific language of the proposed amendment, 52 percent support it and the opposition drops to 38 percent.
  • When voters learn that the houses of worship would maintain the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples, 56 percent support the amendment and only 34 percent oppose it.

The amendment's support of religious freedom seems to make the greatest difference to voters.

"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," said Freedom Ohio co-founder Ian James. "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."

To build support for the marriage equality amendment, GetEqual Ohio is organizing public actions at noon on Valentine's Day (Friday, February 14) outside courthouses in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. Other cities may also participate. More details are available on the Facebook event.

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