Libertarian party vice presidential candidate James Gray teamed up with same-sex marriage advocates Saturday to endorse a ballot initiative that would define marriage in Ohio's Constitution as "a union of two consenting adults."
About 15 supporters of gay marriage and the Libertarian party attended a news conference outside the Lucas County Courthouse, where Mr. Gray praised the "Freedom to Marry" amendment on behalf of himself and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico.
"Unlike Mitt Romney or President Obama, Governor Johnson and I believe the right to marry who we choose is a constitutionally protected right," Mr. Gray said. "Governor Johnson and I are proud to lend our support, and urge the good people of Ohio to put their state on the side of equality and against government being in the business of deciding who can marry whom."
Mr. Gray also criticized President Obama's treatment of the issue.
"President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, but then he calls it a state issue. What does that mean? It means he doesn't have to do anything about it," he said. "It's shallow."
Ian James, co-founder of Free- domOhio, the organization proposing the amendment, also spoke to supporters at the event.
"Ohioans know marriage helps committed couples take care of each other and their families," he said. "Marriage matters because it's a public declaration of two adults' love and commitment for one another."
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Mr. James also thanked the Libertarian party for their support. "It's a match made in heaven," he said. "We've found a wonderful working relationship with the Libertarian party."
Supporters of the Ohio amendment plan to place it on the 2013 general election ballot, Mr. James said, provided they obtain the approximately 386,000 signatures needed to qualify.
The campaign to replace a same-sex marriage ban Ohio voters approved in 2004 currently has "tens of thousands" of signatures, he said.
The amendment's language specifies that "no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage," along with keeping existing prohibitions on bigamy and marrying siblings or first cousins.
The 2008 Libertarian candidate for president, Bob Barr, has also announced opposition to same-sex marriage bans. A Libertarian platform on the party's Web site states: "Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government's treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws."
Aside from the speakers, the event turned out a few same-sex marriage supporters and libertarians sympathetic to the issue.
Toledo resident Tod Damask, 45, said he supports same-sex marriage and plans to vote for the Libertarian Party in November.
"With this two-party system where we constantly go to war, increase bureaucracy, and hire more government workers, we're never going to get anywhere," he said.
Multiple states vote this year on ballot initiatives or referendums related to the issue of same-sex marriage. No state has yet approved a ballot initiative like the one proposed by FreedomOhio.
Contact Casey Sumner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6084.