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Monday, September 22, 2014
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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2014

First gay-marriage ad airing in Ohio since '04

ALAN JOHNSON
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

TV advertising about same-sex marriage is back in Ohio for the first time in a decade, even though nothing about the issue is on the November ballot.

An official with Why Marriage Matters Ohio, a statewide coalition advocating same-sex marriage, said the new ad — featuring two elderly Ohioans, Henry Hawley and George Vassos of Chagrin Falls near Cleveland — is part of a continuing education campaign.

But it’s also clear that the 30-second ad, which begins today and runs through next Wednesday, is timed to lead up to a legal showdown on that final day, when five same-sex marriage cases from four states are to be argued at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

“Attitudes in Ohio and across the country are changing fast as communities are coming together to have very serious conversations about the meaning of family, fairness and the future,” Michael Premo, campaign manager for Why Marriage Matters Ohio, said in a statement. “Our hope is that sharing Henry and George’s story of love and commitment will accelerate those conversations and further increase support for marriage equality in Ohio.”

The men were married last fall in New York after 50 years together as a couple. The ad may be seen on YouTube.

In an accompanying fundraising message, Hawley and Vassos said their wedding was “a very special moment for both of us, but the moment we crossed state lines to return to Ohio — those words and the commitment we made to each other were no longer recognized in the state we call home.”

Ads on the marriage issue have not been on Ohio TV screens since 2004, when voters approved a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Battles since then have been fought in the courtroom.

Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati group that organized the 2004 amendment campaign, said he thinks same-sex advocates are behind in the public-opinion polls and are trying to improve their position by running television ads.

“This is really a simple issue. You either agree with it or don’t,” Burress said. “They’re going against the grain of intuition and what God has placed on their hearts.”



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