Seeking marriage equality PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 09:21
Susie Nero (left) signs the petition for marriage equality in Ohio as Amy Holland points out the neccesary information in front of Grounds for Thought. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Those fighting for marriage equality in Ohio are turning to the same strategy used in 2004 to enact a statewide ban on same-sex marriage.
Gwen Andrix and Amy Holland, both Bowling Green residents, have nearly collected the entire Wood County portion of petition signatures required for a ballot initiative to place the issue before voters in November 2014.
The couple, who have been in a relationship for about four months after working together for FreedomOhio for the last year, routinely sit outside Grounds for Thought on South Main Street, asking passersby to support the measure. Roughly 385,000 valid signatures are required across the state.
Andrix said she came out as transgender about six years ago and has been "working on equality issues ever since."
"There are long-term, monogamous, dedicated relationships out there in same-sex couples," she said. "There are people raising children. They have families. They should be entitled to the same rights and benefits as everybody else."
FreedomOhio is fighting a constitutional amendment requiring recognition of "only a union between one man and one woman." The group's initiative would replace that measure with one allowing two adults to marry regardless of gender that also grants religious institutions freedom to determine whom to marry and the right to refuse to perform a marriage.
Andrix said the petition process has garnered signatures from unexpected sources, including those who identify themselves as Republican or Tea Party supporters. "Marriage equality is something that affects everybody, no matter what party you are," she said.
"There's a lot of Republicans and Tea-Partiers out there that have gay children, and that's usually an epiphany for them. They find out they have a gay child and they want the same thing for their gay child that they may have for themselves - having marriage, having a loving relationship."
The list of Ohio Republicans in that category grew Monday as former attorney general Jim Petro endorsed FreedomOhio's proposed amendment.
Petro, whose daughter married a woman in Massachusetts last year, said in a statement he was proud to support the measure.
"They are expecting a child soon and deserve the same protections guaranteed to other families," he stated. "Seeing their happiness and realizing all the rights they would be denied here in Ohio has proven to me the importance of equal marriage in our state.
"I'm thoroughly convinced that bringing marriage equality to Ohio is the right thing to do. This amendment is rooted in a central conservative value, namely, freedom - the freedom to love, the freedom of religion and the freedom from big government."
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) also expressed support for marriage equality earlier this year when his son came out as gay.
Holland, who grew up in Bowling Green, said the community has generally been supportive of her lifestyle. She and Andrix pointed to the city's ordinances forbidding housing and employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, affirmed by voters in 2010, as a source of strength and welcoming.
"I think it was a big step forward," said Andrix, who recently moved to Bowling Green. "I feel very comfortable in this town."

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