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Groups gearing up for gay marriage vote in Ohio in 2014

Several state and national groups have joined forces in a new campaign for same-sex marriage, but have not officially backed a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Ohio’s gay marriage ban.

Equality Ohio, which formed in the wake of the 2004 same-sex marriage ban, announced a statewide education campaign in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland. The effort is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Ohio and national organizations Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, said FreedomOhio, the group collecting signatures to put a same-sex marriage constitutional amendment before voters in in 2014, was invited to join but did not accept the invitation.

“We are grateful for the effort in putting together and getting out there and working on the petition effort. At the same time, we know the numbers in Ohio are not strong enough yet,” Holford said.

Holford referenced the poll released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute that showed 47 percent of Ohioans are in favor of same-sex marriage and 47 percent oppose it.

Lori Viars, a Warren County conservative who worked on the 2004 amendment, said social conservative groups will rally together to defeat a gay marriage amendment whenever it is on the ballot.

“I think the mainstream view is the view I hold, which is that marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Viars said.

FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James said the survey showed support for same-sex marriage is growing and 47 percent is a good place for a campaign to be 14 months before an election.

The Freedom to Marry amendment would redefine marriage as being between two persons and exempt churches and religious organizations from performing or recognizing marriages outside of their beliefs.

Equality Ohio and other groups have hesitated from endorsing the amendment.

Ohio voters approved a constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in 2004, with 62 percent of the vote. The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, backed by conservative group Citizens for Community Values, spent $1.2 million on the effort.

Holford said they are in the process of hiring a campaign manager and the campaign will include media advertising in addition to door-to-door canvassing.

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