Columbus--As it dissolves the group formed to campaign against Issue 1, Ohioans for Growth and Equality will shift its focus, say its leaders.
�We�re still finding out which vendors were not paid,� said Chad Foust, who chairs both the statewide LGBT organization and the Issue 1 group, Ohioans Protecting the Constitution. �As long as there is money, the campaign is still alive. There is no time limit for us to spend the money and close the campaign.�
Ohioans Protecting the Constitution �was formed for one purpose, to defeat Issue 1,� Foust said. Keeping it going would be �inappropriate.�
Campaign manager Alan Melamed, who was hired by OGE to run the campaign, said he expects $20,000 to $25,000 will be left over after all expenses are paid.
Foust said he thinks there have been more expenses since Melamed�s statement, and doesn�t know how much will be left, though he expects the money will be given to OGE.
�OGE made an initial investment in the campaign,� said Foust, �so the campaign should make an investment back to OGE.�
Ohioans for Growth and Equality, a nonprofit corporation formed in 2002, is allowed to do some political activity, but is chartered primarily to do community education.
OGE was the first contributor to the campaign, giving it $20,000 in July.
Foust said money given to OGE from the Issue 1 campaign would �be used to further promote OGE as the state organization, and continue lobbying legislators.�
Foust said OGE has little money, and has been raising money to fund projects and needs as they come up. OGE hired the State Street Consultants lobbying firm to try to defeat the �defense of marriage act� in the Ohio legislature a year ago.
Foust said the OGE board is now deciding the direction it wants to go.
�[OGE] needs to build the board and make itself stronger,� said Foust. �OGE was formed to be reactive. Maybe there�s no legislative agenda now, but we need to continue to build relationships with legislators.�
�OGE�s record stands clear,� said Foust. �When DOMA happened, we hired a lobbyist and fought. When the constitutional amendment happened, we formed OPC and fought.�
Foust said OGE will change its strategy from a political campaign to a marketing campaign, which he said will give more time to educate the public about the lives of LGBT people.
�A political campaign is short-lived and has limited time and resources,� said Foust. �A marketing campaign has more time, and more educational opportunities. There are pictures we just can�t paint in a political campaign.�
Noting that the political climate was right for the proponents of Issue 1 this time, Foust added, �We need to make the climate right for us.�
Three other repeal groups form
OGE and the Human Rights Campaign Columbus steering committee invited leaders of LGBT organizations from around the state to discuss strategy in Columbus on December 7.
At least three other groups independent of OGE and HRC have formed to begin an effort to repeal Issue 1. The largest was organized by the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center. Others are in Dayton and Columbus.
�I thought people wanted OGE to do everything,� said Foust, �but it�s not so. OGE is needed to keep everyone on the same page.�
Foust said OGE �earned some political capital and built a reputation� running the campaign against Issue 1, which he defined as the cooperation from elected officials and newspaper editors.
�And we built partnerships with other organizations and groups.� Foust concluded, �We grew the number of individuals involved. For many it was the first time they got involved--the first time they wrote a check, volunteered to work, or even voted.�
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