All Rights reserved
Backers of a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in Ohio still don't know if it will be on the November 2 ballot, but their proposed language for the issue was approved Tuesday. The Ohio Ballot Board unanimously approved the language, proposed by the Cincinnati-based group Citizens for Community Values. The language says that if the issue passes, the state will recognize only unions between one man and one woman as marriage. Ohio's county boards of elections still must certify more than 390,000 signatures submitted by backers to get the issue on the ballot. They'll need almost 320,000 of those to be valid signatures of certified voters. The deadline for certification is August 27. If the petitioners fall short, they will have 10 days after that to gather additional signatures. The adopted language reads: "Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage." An opponents' group, Ohioans Protecting the Constitution, feels the language fails to tell voters the impact that passage of the amendment would have on public employees, spokesman Alan Melamed told the board. The group proposed inclusion of all the government subdivisions, such as county and local government, in the ballot language. It also proposed that the language mention that passage would preclude local governments from establishing their own benefits programs that include benefits for unmarried partners. "We are faced with this amendment, an amendment that will have a devastating effect on this state," Melamed said. David Langdon, a lawyer representing the backers, said the language is taken directly from the proposed amendment. "Let the voters vote on the language," he said.