Socially conservative voters and other assorted bigots in my otherwise lovely home state of Ohio passed Issue 1 in 2004, which banned gay marriage – and it has incensed me ever since. I won’t get into the reasons why, but they should be obvious to anyone who reads my manifesto on gay marriage.
Needless to say, when I heard that Freedom to Marry Ohio was cleared to begin collecting signatures for a 2013 ballot initiative that would not only squash the ban on gay marriage but also clear the way to allow gays to marry – I knew I had to get involved.
The 2004 ballot measure passed in Ohio by what some would call a landslide, with 62 percent of voters supporting the ban. Landslide or not, 38 percent is not a small minority – and what’s more, it’s growing every day. In 1996, only 25 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, while several recent polls now put that support at over 50 percent. That’s right – in less than two decades, support to do away with one of the most embarrassing civil rights deprivations of our lifetime has doubled.
Does this rapidly growing support mean that Ohio voters will be ready in 2013 to do away with the ban they approved just nine years ago? Honestly, I’m not sure. There is a strong conservative movement in Ohio, and they have teeth. Even the national Freedom to Marry organization is not backing Freedom to Marry Ohio’s efforts, saying that public education and a carefully laid framework are necessary in the lead-up to any such ballot initiative to pass. To that, I’ll say two things.
First, the public is educating itself. Speaking purely anecdotally, gay marriage seems to me to be one of those issues that you’re either staunchly for or staunchly against – I speak with very few people who remain undecided on the issue. I don’t think that educating the public does much to sway that tiny minority. I believe the key to winning is, in large part, organizing a grassroots voting effort to ensure that as many supporters as possible show up at the polls to show support.
Second, even if the effort were to fail, it would still achieve a very important end: It would demonstrate to the state and to the nation that support for marriage equality is growing. If the number of voters who turned out to support gay marriage rose from 38 percent in 2004 to even 43 percent in 2013, it demonstrates to those who “keep the faith” that, by the end of the decade perhaps, we’ll have the 51 percent we need to finally put this disgrace behind us.
And so, in keeping with my belief that everyone should be afforded the right to marry, I announced on my Facebook page in April that I have personally committed to collecting 1,000 petition signatures to allow voters to re-decide the fate of marriage equality in Ohio.
I’ll be asking the couples whose ceremonies I’ll be performing in the coming months – who feel as strongly about this issue as I do – to allow me to collect signatures at their wedding receptions, in the hopes that one day soon everyone will be permitted to experience the same joyous celebration of love that they do. And I’ll be arranging days and events at which I’ll set up shop for those interested in signing. I’ll share those dates with you here as they become available. And I’m not alone in the effort – in addition to my activist brides and grooms, the incomparably talented designer Laura Guardalabene is in the process of designing signs to display at my various “collection sites” – sure to draw the eye, and sure to draw in all those who support marriage equality.
If you’re interested in helping with the effort – by volunteering to collect petition signatures, hosting a fundraiser or contributing funds directly to the cause – visit the Freedom to Marry Ohio website and sign up.
Where there is love – let there be marriage!