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Published: Sunday, 7/15/2012

Ending marriage bias is about fairness

BY MARY JO KILROY

IN OHIO, the tide is turning -- not slowly, but swiftly -- toward ensuring that all of us have the right and freedom to marry the person we love, regardless of gender.

We formed FreedomOhio this year because we sensed this sea change coming. The Ohio Attorney General and Ohio Ballot Board have approved our proposal's language, enabling us to begin collecting signatures aimed at ending marriage discrimination here as soon as November, 2013.

Our Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment to the Ohio Constitution is simple, clear, and concise. It says that two loving adults have the right to marry.

At the same time, we are not going to infringe on someone's religious beliefs, so we protect religious freedoms in the amendment. No religious institution will have to recognize or perform a same-gender marriage unless it chooses to do so.

Ohioans are embracing our amendment. More and more people are beginning to understand that when two people dedicate their lives to each other, they should be allowed to marry. We're talking about basic rights, fairness, and jobs.

Our country was founded on treating all people equally. Right now, a sizable number of Ohioans make the commitment to marriage by devoting themselves to each other through sickness and health, rich or poor, until death do them part. But the state will not recognize these marriages.

As leaders ranging from President Obama to former President Jimmy Carter have said, it is not fair to tell someone that your love, your commitment, your devotion, and your marriage are not real.

We are a fair-minded people, in Ohio and this country. Marriage discrimination just isn't fair.

According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, married couples are granted about 1,400 legal rights and benefits. Ohio's same-gender couples are denied these rights, many of which we take for granted.

Spouses in Ohio have rights to make medical decisions for their loved ones, but these next-of-kin rights are denied same-gender couples. Imagine the person you love -- your spouse -- stricken and hospitalized, and when you show up, you are told you have no standing to aid and comfort that person, and help him or her make sometimes difficult decisions.

We all can do better than this, and we will. We are heartened by the outpouring of support our movement is attracting in Ohio. You can learn more by going to www.freedomohio.com or by becoming a friend of ours at facebook.com/FreedomToMarryOH.

With the help of our friends, families, and neighbors, we are going to pass the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment and end marriage discrimination in Ohio.

Mary Jo Kilroy, a former U.S. representative from the Columbus area, is CEO of FreedomOhio.



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