National LGBT Groups Distance Themselves from Ohio Campaign to Put Gay Marriage on 2014 Ballot

Today, FreedomOhio, a group working to put same-sex marriage on the ballot in Ohio in 2014, announced that "the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Ohio, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Freedom to Marry, the Gill Action Fund, the American Unity Fund and the BISC met today and discussed how to become involved in next year’s campaign" according to the Columbus Dispatch.

OhioSaid Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder:

“We have decided to be on the ballot in 2014 to allow for a continuing dialogue with voters across Ohio about why marriage matters. We will continue to build upon the hundreds of thousands of conversations we’ve had already, to identify supportive voters, and to raise the resources necessary to mobilize a full-on campaign.”

Later this afternoon, those groups confirmed the meeting in an email, but said there was no discussion about putting the measure on the ballot in 2014 or any other date:

Contrary to the assertions made by Ian James in an unapproved statement, there was no agreement reached to put forward a ballot initiative in 2014 or any other specific date. Instead, all of the groups in attendance, including Freedom Ohio and nearly a dozen other leading organizations, agreed to work together to talk to Ohio voters about why marriage matters and strengthen our coalition in the months ahead, reserving judgment on the timing of a ballot initiative until a clear pathway to victory could be determined and carried out.

“Ohio families deserve to win marriage as soon as possible. And our national partners have won marriage equality in 13 jurisdictions. We are putting together a strong, honest coalition and a responsible plan to win,” said Elyzabeth Holford, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “We intend to win and will do everything necessary to secure fairness for same-sex couples and their families.”

“We are committed to winning marriage in Ohio as soon as possible, and to developing the kind of robust campaign that has helped us achieve historic victories across the country,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry. “What we need to do now is engage in the real work to increase public support so we can win on the ballot—in 2016, or if possible sooner.”

“Ian James must have attended a different meeting than the rest of us,” said Marty Rouse, National Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Representatives from 11 state and national organizations participated in today’s meeting. Ten of them came away with a clear understanding that we would refrain from deciding on timing until it was responsible to do so. We’re perplexed as to how Freedom Ohio came away with a different understanding.”


  1. KT says

    The groups could have just said “Ian James is mistaken”. Instead it is like that scene in Airplane, where the passengers line up to slap the hysterical woman.

  2. will says

    I actually prefer public initiatives at the ballot box now instead of the legislatures. In liberal states, the public is much more accepting and tolerant than the lawmakers. Illinois would have passed gay marriage if it were on the ballot. With legislatures, you have to deal both with conservatives & older people with ingrained prejudices. The public is the better route and provides the strongest legitimacy in a democratic system like ours.

  3. Kevin says

    I don’t like putting our rights up to a public vote and more to the point,even in states it passed,it was a bare majority.
    Just because polls say people support it,doesn’t mean those people will vote the same way if the issue is put forward to them or that they will come out and vote.

  4. Bob says

    SORRY –“Elyzabeth Holford”
    We can’t make things go our way by stubbornly getting ahead of ourselves. Let the dust settle from the SCOTUS decisions. Let Illinois pass it, then work on the Ohio Legislature before resorting to an expensive, devisive election you may not win
    Just MY opinion — half the reason Prop 8 won was that the Gay side was run by Lesbian thinking. Thus the TV ads were about calling the opponents unfair and bigoted, not about recruiting people to the right side.
    They wasted incredible effort on NONSENSE such as “meet in the middle” which was about SF and LA groups marching through nowhere with no media coverage, to meet up in Fresno, which is nowhere with no media coverage.
    They picketed the mormon temple (raising accusations of religious hate) while the mormons were standing on busy corners with signs, and running ads that manipulated parents into being afraid of Gays.

  5. Ken says

    We have now reached the point where in many states our best and maybe only path to equality is to put the issue on the ballot. In Ohio there is a constitutional amendment that needs to be repealed, the Courts won’t do it and the legislature can’t (and won’t) do it either. But polls are showing the public supports marriage equality. We need to take this to the people and the national LGBT groups need to get on board. Many in our community seem to prefer to whine about how unfair things are rather than fight to change them?

  6. Bob says

    @Ken — who says that courts will not strike down those amendments as unconstitutional? Of course, it will end up with SCOTUS.
    Meanwhile, many legislatures HAVE come around lately, with far less fuss, cost, and out of State interference than elections.

  7. Ken says

    I believe there are 6 states that could have marriage equality by the end of next year if our community would just have the balls to put it on the ballot on fight for it. California, New Jersey, Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Michigan. This go slow approach is so frustrating! Remember, the national LGBT groups did not want the ballot measure in Maine to happen either, trust the local organizations, they know their states the best.

  8. Ken says

    @Bob: We will know in a few weeks if SCOTUS strikes down all of the amendments. I hope they do but that is not what I am expecting and we need a plan to move forward if they are upheld. In Ohio, the legislature can do NOTHING even if they wanted to, the constitutional amendment needs to be repealed and can only be done by the voters.

  9. JG says

    Of course you don’t like putting your rights up to vote. They will be defeated. Wouldn’t want to expose that little secret that the last thing voters want are gay rights. It’s a gay board game. No one else wants to play.

  10. Clarknt67 says

    “Of course you don’t like putting your rights up to vote. They will be defeated. Wouldn’t want to expose that little secret that the last thing voters want are gay rights. It’s a gay board game. No one else wants to play.”

    Four words, JG:

  11. Francis #1 says

    It’s going to be a long term situation. We have to get rid of these amendments before we can even take the next step in our fight, and 32 states have amendments banning equality. We’re almost at the end of the rope, we will probably get California to some extent at the end of the month, which is huge. But realistically we’re not going to even get to 20 in the next few years, so we need to continue working and building.

    Ohio’s poll numbers are way too close to pass equality this season, but I think it can pass in 2014 so I’d be disappointed if it isn’t on ballot.

  12. Zlick says

    I don’t think it takes balls to put our equal rights on the ballot; I think it takes craven self-loathing.

    That’s just my opinion as a Californian. Having our civil and human rights put up to a vote is repulsive and wrong, and made me and millions of others feel like pawns and animals. It’s wrong whether you win or lose.

    But – le sigh – I understand this may be a lone option in states that have constitutional amendments – IF the issue isn’t decided justly by the Supreme Court later this month.

    Even at that, putting anyone’s rights up to a vote is something I cannot personally condone. It’s the courts or nothing. This is a matter of justice, not a matter of expediency. But I’m not from Ohio, so that’s just one wounded Californian’s opinion.

  13. Ken says

    @Francis: Many of these amendments are as easy to repeal as they were to pass in the first place. Get enough signatures to put it on the ballot and get over 50% of the vote. This is the rule in Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, California, and Arizona. And all of these states have had a recent polls showing public support for marriage equality. Other states are more difficult, but we can definitely be over 20 states by the end of next year.

  14. Ken says

    @Zlick: I agree that putting civil and human rights up to a vote is repulsive and wrong, just like having to go begging to state legislatures, marriage should be a constitutional right for everyone. But if our courts don’t see it that way I’m not willing to sit around and be treated as a second class citizen until they change their minds.

  15. Boston says

    Doesn’t make strategic sense for FreedomOhio to make this announcement today. It does nothing to support a fifty-state solution in the proposition 8 case, and makes the argument for our opponents that each state should decide this issue.

  16. Ike says

    Thank goodness I live in North Carolina. Queer marriage ain’t coming here any time soon! The people banned that crap last year.

  17. JG says

    “Strategic sense.” That says it all. I guess it took a while to decide who would be Yankees and Rebels too.

  18. MateoM says

    I wonder how Ike found these site. Is it his self loathing that begets curiosity or his curiosity that begets self loathing?

  19. Brad says

    i am a life-long ohioan, i live in columbus, the most liberal of ohio cities, and i don’t think ohio would approve marriage equality, put to a popular vote. we may be right next to Pennsylvania, but outside of the big three cities, we’re basically south dakota, queer-wise. remember, this is the state that not four years ago, a kid got beaten up in school, on camera, for being queer.

  20. Esteban says

    Like Brad, I’m a fellow Columbusite who doesn’t trust my fellow Ohioans outside of the major cites – especially in an non-presidential election year. I love my state but once you get out of the cities you might as be in Alabama.

  21. Jim says

    I think this would be a big mistake to do this in Ohio. Personally, I think it has about a zero chance of passing there. Hopefully, the people at FreedomOhio will decide to wait. A big loss in Ohio is not going to help us anywhere else.

  22. Jack Smith says

    They don’t have the support and don’t want to blow it by going for the ballot too early. The young hotheads who can’t see two feet in front of their faces are urging action now, while establishment gays well remember the days, and lingering animosity, when they were completely rejected by society and are counseling caution. Truth is, Ohio is a generation away from embracing gay rights.