Ohio Democratic Party Endorses Marriage Equality Movement

People in the wider community and the national progressive community think I'm dreaming when I say that I believe marriage equality will be on the Ohio ballot next year and that I would not bet big on it not passing. (Hey Mitt, about that $10,000 wager ...)

But I have good reason to think this. I've watched as the movement grew from a conversation between a handful of individuals in the Columbus LGBT community early this year to volunteers all over the state collecting tens of thousands of signatures to put it on the ballot. (You may recall that attorney general Mike DeWine rejected the initial language for the petitions but it was rewritten and petition circulators hit the streets in April.)

As the movement — now named Freedom Ohio — became more organized, it pulled back from aiming for this year's ballot to spend more time educating and organizing for a better shot at passing the issue once it got on the ballot. Some of the more traditional LGBT folks were reluctant at first, thinking "it's not time yet." But the energy has snowballed and the movement is heading toward an inexorable conclusion of equal rights for everybody whether next year or some other time in the near future.

The group has now announced that the Ohio Democratic Party has endorsed its initiative.


This is a good move for both sides. Obviously, having the endorsement of a major political party provides some establishment cred. (What a shame that the GOP doesn't recognize that equality takes nothing away from anyone, merely puts every citizen on the same footing.)

But it's good for the ODP too. Going into 2014, the party needs to not make the same mistake it made in 2010: alienating members of its key bases. I've talked a lot about how women sat out after Governor Ted Strickland A. allowed (or directed?) some of his closest associates to sabotage Jennifer Brunner's U.S. Senate primary campaign and B. found a spot for his friend, anti-choice extremist Jennifer Garrison, on the statewide ticket as candidate for secretary of state.

I've written about the angry response of women, and how, by the time Garrison was pulled from the ticket five months later, many had already decided they weren't going to put much effort into the campaign that year.

I've talked less about the role of the LGBT community, although I did write about Garrison's anti-marriage equality stance back in 2009:


Garrison had used her strong anti-gay marriage to get elected to the state legislature. She wrote an editorial for her local paper in support of the "Defense of Marriage" amendment on the ballot in 2004, using the loaded language about marriage being "sacred" and "holy" that telegraphs that government has no business being involved.

The story going around then was that Strickland had been planning to plug Garrison into the lieutenant governor slot left empty when Lee Fisher decided to run for the Senate — until he was told by Columbus LGBT activists that they would not support him should he do that. Instead, he moved her over to the SoS spot. That surely didn't inspire members of the LGBT community to work overtime for the ticket that year.

Mending those bridges is going to be essential for the Democrats to oust the statewide Republican officials who have done Ohio so much damage. Endorsing FreedomOhio is a great way to send out a message that it's a new day and the ODP is not going to forget its most loyal constituencies which in 2010 it took for granted to chase fence-sitters who don't reliably turn out in off-year elections.

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