The Ohio supreme court on Thursday rejected a legal challenge to placing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot. The court ruled 6-1 against opponents of the amendment who challenged the validity of the initiative as it was submitted to the secretary of state's office.
The decision paves the way for the amendment, which bans gay marriage and prevents local or state government from recognizing same-sex couples in any fashion, to appear on the November 2 ballot. This was the last pending legal challenge, both sides said. The opponents argued the initiative was invalid because it lacked the required summary and certification from the Ohio attorney general.
The court ruled on technical grounds, saying it did not have jurisdiction over the claim, that opponents did not make their claim far enough ahead of the election, and that a lower court had already ruled on the same issues. "This thing is definitely going to go forward," said David Langdon, an attorney representing Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, which gathered the signatures to place the issue on the ballot. "It makes us feel better that we're going to be spending all this money and be on the ballot for good." He did not say how much the campaign was costing the group but said it was expensive.
Last month the 10th Ohio district court of appeals in Columbus rejected opponents' attempt to keep the amendment off the ballot, saying they did not "demonstrate their right" to get a court order throwing out the petitions. Opponents said they weren't surprised by Thursday's ruling and had already assumed they wouldn't win in the courts. "After the court of appeals decision, from the campaign's perspective we made the decision to move forward to defeat the issue," said Alan Melamed, spokesman for Ohioans Protecting the Constitution. The group plans to start airing TV commercials Monday, he said.
Backers of the issue launched a statewide radio ad campaign earlier this week featuring Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who strongly supports the measure. Other Republican statewide office holders, including Gov. Bob Taft, oppose the amendment, saying it's ambiguous and could hurt the economy.