The so-called Ohio Marriage Amendment became part of the state’s constitution on December 2, and the day was marked by protests around the state.
The amendment was passed as Issue 1 by voters last month. It adds Article XV, Section 11 to the Ohio Constitution, prohibiting same-sex marriages already illegal under state law. The measure also threatens other non-marital arrangements, including civil unions and domestic partner benefits.
Rallies were held in Athens, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Sandusky and Toledo, organized by local groups and the ACLU of Ohio. A march to the state capitol organized by the Columbus Human Rights Campaign committee took place December 4.
Two hundred people gathered in front of the Athens County courthouse at noon for a “wedding” between bigotry, the groom, and the Ohio Constitution, the bride, staged by the county ACLU chapter. Athens County was the only one of Ohio’s 88 counties to reject Issue 1 at the polls.
During the ceremony, the reluctant “bride” only agreed to the marriage after being physically attacked by the groom. The audience booed the “groom” and shouted at the point in the ceremony when it was asked if there was objection.
Cleveland’s rally was organized by the Out for Justice project of the Lesbian and Gay Center. It drew about 400 to a park across from the West Side Market, including a busload of students from suburban Orange High School. As participants spoke against the amendment, others circulated through the crowd, collecting names and phone numbers of volunteers to work for its repeal.
In Columbus, sign-bearing demonstrators circled the Statehouse continuously from 11 am to 5 pm, with as many as 50 at a time protesting. The action was organized by Rev. Marj Creech and Deb Neidert of Kent.
“We have faith that if the majority of the people of Ohio understood what they were actually voting for, they would have voted no on Issue 1,” said Creech.
Andrew Hyde, a former cast member of television’s Amazing Race 3 show spoke to a crowd of 75 comprised mostly of Wright State University students gathered at Cooper Park in downtown Dayton. Hyde and student speakers rallied those assembled to get active and do what it takes to “get the message out” to repeal the amendment as soon as possible.
Members of Voices for Peace and Justice, Firelands College Peace and Justice Club, PFLAG, and Agape of Erie County gathered in front of the Erie County courthouse in Sandusky for a candlelight vigil against the amendment.
After the vigil, the 50 participants gathered at a local cafe to discuss what to do to fight the measure.
A crowd of 150 gathered in front of the Lucas County courthouse in Toledo the evening of December 1 for an “all orientations welcome” vigil denouncing the passage of Issue 1.
In a later interview, vigil organizer Rob Salem told the Toledo Blade that every battle for civil rights encounters backlash.
“But there’s also renewed hope that what we’re seeing from the right wing is a last-ditch effort. I sense desperation,” said Salem.
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