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DeWine urged to ax ban on gay marriage

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Rob Salem of Equality Toledo calls on U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) to withdraw his sponsorship of a federal amendment to ban gay marriage. Appearing outside the Lucas County Courthouse with Mr. Salem are group members Cindy Voller, left, and Michelle Stecker.

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A local organization that advocates equality for gay and lesbians yesterday urged U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) to withdraw his sponsorship from a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Kim Welter, executive director of Equality Toledo, said she was saddened and disappointed to learn that the senator stepped into the same-sex marriage debate by co-sponsoring the amendment.

She said passage of the amendment would deny gay and lesbian couples and their children the opportunity to receive the same privileges and protections afforded to heterosexual couples.

"Before you continue down this discriminatory path, we simply ask that you sit down with gay and lesbian families in Toledo and northwest Ohio and hear our stories," Ms. Welter said.

The statement was made dur-ing a news conference outside the Lucas County Courthouse in downtown Toledo.

She was joined by other members of Equality Toledo, which strives to assure equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in northwest Ohio.

Mr. DeWine is among more than 20 co-sponsors who are pushing for the U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

Mike Dawson, a spokesman for the senator, said Mr. DeWine has been consistently against gay marriage and a strong proponent for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as solely a union of one man and one woman.

"The senator has always believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman,'' he said.

But Rob Salem, a lawyer who is a member of Equality Toledo, gave examples at the news conference to show how the amendment would discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, including family law, custody of children, adoption, and estate planning. "The impact will be drastic,'' said Mr. Salem, who teaches at the University of Toledo College of Law.

A vote on the issue is scheduled for June, after the GOP primary next month. Mr. DeWine is expected to face U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D., Avon) in the November general election for the Senate seat.

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