Gay marriage amendment may be headed to Ohio ballot in 2013

Ohio may be at the center of the gay marriage debate in 2013 as supporters are trying to get a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would legalize marriage between “two consenting adults regardless of gender.”

The vote would come just months after the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on California’s ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.

The court announced Friday that it also will decide whether Congress can deprive legally married gay couples of federal benefits otherwise available to married people. A provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act limits a range of health and pension benefits, as well as favorable tax treatment, to heterosexual couples.

The cases probably will be argued in March, with decisions expected by late June.

The group Freedom to Marry Ohio has until July 3 to gather nearly 400,000 valid signatures to put the amendement on the Ohio ballot. The last time a gay marriage amendment was on the ballot in Ohio was in 2004. That issue made it unconstitutional to recognize same-sex marriages and passed with more than 60 percent of the vote.