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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Group Working To Repeal Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban Cancels Meeting With Established Groups BY ON TOP MAGAZINE STAFF Via Lester A. Ponte

Citing “vicious comments,” the group working to repeal Ohio's gay marriage ban canceled a meeting with established groups Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality Ohio.
Earlier this month, Ohio's Ballot Board cleared a proposed amendment filed by Freedom to Marry Ohio which would legalize gay marriage in the state. It would repeal a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual union, which passed in 2004 with overwhelming support.
The group now must collect roughly 385,000 valid signatures from at least half of Ohio's 88 counties to get the proposal on next year's ballot.
According to the Gay People's Chronicle, an April 9 meeting between Freedom to Marry Ohio, HRC and Equality Ohio was called off when Freedom to Marry Ohio founder Ian James and its CEO, Mary Jo Kilroy, refused to attend.
The meeting was set up by former Congressman Ed Feighan and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan.
Feighan, who is openly gay, said James cited “harsh, mean-spirited, vicious comments” in the media as the reason for canceling on the meeting the day before it was scheduled to take place.
Ed Mullen, executive director for Equality Ohio, the state's largest gay rights advocate, said that sufficient “research and analysis has not been done that would make this a successful effort.”
Harsher comments came for Freedom to Marry's Marc Solomon.
“Ballot measures are expensive and we need to do years of groundwork, hit benchmarks, and get the state to where we can win,” said Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry. “Getting to the ballot is the last step. It should never be the first step.”
The lack of support from other groups prompted Hagan, Freedom to Marry Ohio's high-profile chair, to quit.
“Questions have been raised,” Hagan told the Gay People's Chronicle, “and it could have been solved by having everyone at the table.”
“They declined a meeting because they thought they were unduly criticized,” he added.
James insisted that his group's door “is not closed, not cracked open, but wide open to ongoing conversations with EO and other organizations.”