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Lucas Co. commissioners support gay marriage

Gerken says his son wed a man in D.C.

  • n4marriage-1

    Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak speaks about the commissioners’ unanimous support for gay marriage in Ohio.

    <THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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    Toledoans Kristina Quinones, left, and Jacqueline Quinones wed in Chicago on March 29.

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Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak speaks about the commissioners’ unanimous support for gay marriage in Ohio.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Lucas County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday in support of Why Marriage Matters Ohio, an effort for equality in Ohio marriage laws for same-sex couples.

For one commissioner, the issue was intensely personal.

“My son married his partner, Rick, of 17 years last July in Washington, D.C.,” said Commissioner Pete Gerken, who spoke for the first time publicly about his son’s homosexuality. “But it was bittersweet, having to get married so far away from his family and friends. Someday I hope he can do it all over again, and do it here where we can all be part of it.

“We need to change our constitution to recognize the rights of everyone. You should be able to marry the one you love.”

Commissioner Gerken made his comments in a news conference at One Government Center. The commissioners presented the resolution in a news conference before their meeting.

Why Marriage Matters Ohio kicked off in Toledo in April and is part of a nationwide campaign for marriage equality, said campaign manager Michael Premo, who spoke at the news conference. The national campaign began in September.

“This resolution is the first in the state,” Mr. Premo said.

The organization considered putting the issue of same-sex marriage on this year’s ballot, but organizers believed they needed to rally more support first, Mr. Premo said.

“We’ll try to put it on the ballot in 2016 if the Supreme Court hasn’t already taken care of it,” he said.

The Why Marriage Matters Ohio campaign involves having conversations and sharing stories showing that same-sex couples and their families should be welcomed and treated fairly in Ohio, Mr. Premo said.

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Toledoans Kristina Quinones, left, and Jacqueline Quinones wed in Chicago on March 29.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
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A longtime supporter for marriage equality, Mr. Gerken said that he hadn’t previously mentioned his son’s homosexuality publicly, because he had never believed the opportunity was appropriate.

Chris Gerken, 42, grew up in Toledo and lives in Washington.

“I’m very proud of him,” Pete Gerken said. “I love him and Rick very much.”

Toledo residents Kristina and Jacqueline Quinones, both 35, who married in Chicago on March 29, were at Tuesday’s news conference. They are active in the Why Marriage Matters Ohio campaign.

Jacqueline Quinones said obtaining their marriage certificate at the Cook County Courthouse “was pretty special,” even though their marriage isn’t recognized in Ohio.

Both women remain optimistic that Ohio will eventually recognize their union, although they admit many obstacles remain.

“A lot of people don’t see us as human beings,” Kristina Quinones said. “People don’t like to affect change and think we’re trying to redefine marriage; we’re trying to be part of it.”

Jacqueline Quinones is more optimistic and believes change is around the corner.

“The momentum is moving at a rapid pace in Ohio,” she said. “We have a lot of people supporting us. We’ll get the others and win them over.”

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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