By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 09 2013 5:13 PM ET
With simultaneous announcements in three Ohio cities today, LGBT activists formally launched a public education campaign to increase statewide support for marriage equality.
Activists and supporters with Marriage Matters Ohio held press conferences in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus this morning to announce the statewide campaign that will go hand in hand with similar efforts to put marriage equality on the Ohio ballot next year.
"Our position is simple," said Equality Ohio executive director Elyzabeth Holford in a statement announcing today's campaign launch. "No Ohio family should be denied the critical protections and respect that only marriage can ensure. And we believe Ohioans are ready for a conversation about why marriage matters to all families in our state."
Sen. Sherrod Brown was matter-of-fact when he spoke at the press conference in Cleveland. "There should be marriage equality," he said, according to Why Marriage Matters Ohio's Facebook page. "It's clear to me that marriage matters to all Ohio families."
In Cincinnati faith leaders spoke out in favor of equality, with Pastor Lesley Jones telling the crowd she supports the freedom to marry because of her faith, not in spite of it.
And at the state capitol in Columbus, Ohio's first openly gay lawmaker joined advocates in rallying to build support for the freedom to marry, according to the group's Facebook page.
Ohio voters approved a constitutional ban on marriage equality in 2004, but this July a federal judge said that law likely violated the U.S. Constitution, especially in light of the pro-equality rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court June 26. The Ohio judge didn't rule directly on the state's marriage equality prohibition but did decide that Ohio must recognize the legal marriage of a gay couple on one husband's death certificate. That couple, James Obergefell and John Arthur, flew to Maryland in July to be legally married before Arthur succumbs to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal neurological disease. According to the judge's ruling, Obergefell will be listed as Arthur's "surviving spouse," and Arthur's marital status on his death certificate will read "married."