Ohioans will not see a same-sex marriage amendment on this November’s ballot.
FreedomOhio, the group that has been collecting signatures for a constitutional amendment, said Friday it will “hold its original petition for marriage equality in a state of readiness for filing” while gathering signatures for another petition with “revised language.”
At the same time, FreedomOhio will begin circulating a petition for an initiated statute for an Equal Housing and Employment Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination against gays, lesbians and trans-gender individuals in the areas of housing and employment. The group will need to collect 116,000 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters to submit the measure to the General Assembly. If lawmakers decline to pass the bill, FreedomOhio could under Ohio law collect another 116,000 signatures to put the bill to a public vote.
Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, said the group will consult with other instate LGBT groups and allies “to determine the appropriate time for ballot placement.”
In a statement, he took a slap at Equality Ohio, another group pushing for a same-sex marriage ballot issue in 2016.
“Equality Ohio is operating under the misguided illusion that they can get EHEA (Equal House and Employment Act) passed this year in what is arguably the most conservative legislature in Ohio’s history. We are going directly to the people because we believe they support EHEA and they support it now.”
An anti-discrimination law similar to what FreedomOhio is proposing has been introduced in the legislature as House Bill 163, sponsored by Reps. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, and Ross McGregor, R-Springfield.
By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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