Ohio Supreme Court Dismisses Gay Rights Referendum Challenge
Ohio’s Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a challenge brought by anti-gay groups hoping to block a referendum on retiring the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and replacing it with gender neutral language that would allow same-sex couples the right to marry.
The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage asked the court to invalidate DeWine’s approval of the Freedom To Marry petition summary because “it is not a summary and is not a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment.” The Cincinnati-based group was behind the 2004 amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
DeWine stood by his certification and asked the court to dismiss the suit because the court has no jurisdiction over the pre-certification process for a proposed constitutional amendment. Instead, he wrote, the attorney general must approve any language — even if he or she disagrees with it or thinks it might be unconstitutional.
Court justices voted 5-2 to dismiss the case, with Justices Terrence O’Donnell and Robert Cupp dissenting.
As noted above, anti-gay marriage group the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage had claimed Attorney General Mike DeWine (R), who has repeatedly stated he is personally against same-sex marriage, approved a petition question that did not accurately reflect the goal of the referendum which, they said, was to redefine marriage to the detriment of the state’s children.
Following the court’s ruling, AG DeWine reiterated his stance that his personal opinions didn’t count in this case. According to WKSU he said: ”When somebody wants to put something on the ballot, it’s not a question of whether Mike Dewine likes it or doesn’t like it. … The question is: Is it a concise and accurate representation of what that ballot initiative would do. And our lawyers looked at it and said, ‘Yes it was.’”
Equality groups will have to gather roughly 385,000 signatures to put the measure before voters in November 2013.