Equality groups in Ohio began on Saturday the process of collecting signatures to repeal the state’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and to replace it with language to allow same-sex couples the right to marry.
In so doing Freedom to Marry Ohio began its Court the Vote campaign–the idea being they will visit a different courthouse around the state every Saturday to collect signatures until they have enough to put the issue on the ballot.
The first of the campaign group’s weekly stops was at Athens County Courthouse. The location, so says the group, was chosen for a specific reason:
We chose Athens as our first stop because it was the only county in 2004 where a majority of voters rejected the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
Each week signature gatherers will appear at a different courthouse explaining to people what the Amendment language will be about, asking them to sign, and telling people how they can spread the word to encourage others to join in this drive for equality:
Mary Jo Kilroy, FreedomOhio CEO, said recently, “we know there are thousands of people who support the freedom to marry and religious freedom amendment and we want to make it easy for them to find a petition to sign.”
Equality groups will have to gather roughly 385,000 signatures to put the measure before voters in November 2013.
Equality foes have attempted to sue the state’s attorney general over his approving what they perceive to be petition language that doesn’t spell out how “redefining” marriage could harm the institution. The attorney general, Mike DeWine, has petitioned to have the suit dismissed.
This comes as North Carolina prepares to go to the ballot on May 8 to vote on enacting an even stauncher form of Ohio’s constitutional amendment. Critics and legal scholars alike have warned that the ban will cut health insurance for children and will likely impact domestic violence prevention laws.