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Ohio senator now
supports ban on same-sex marriage

Ohio senator now
supports ban on same-sex marriage


Facing a tough reelection campaign in November, Mike DeWine, Republican U.S. senator from Ohio, said he will take the lead in pushing for a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In 2004, Republican U.S. senator Mike DeWine of Ohio was criticized by religious conservatives for failing to back a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, which was overwhelmingly passed by voters. Now DeWine, who is facing a tough reelection bid in November, has said he will take a lead role in pushing for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

DeWine said he would cosponsor the amendment that Tennessee senator Bill Frist has scheduled for a vote in June. The measure currently has about 20 cosponsors, but supporters concede it is unlikely the Senate will approve it by the required two-thirds majority.

According to the Dispatch, DeWine is expected to easily win the Republican primary in May. But he faces a stiff challenge in November from Rep. Sherrod Brown of Avon, the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate race. To prevail, DeWine will need a heavy turnout from conservatives, many of whom are unhappy with him on issues of same-sex marriage and curbing immigration.

"It looks like he is going to have a close race with Sherrod Brown," John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron and an expert on religion and politics, told the Dispatch. "It makes a lot of sense politically for him to want to solidify that [conservative] base, and this is one way to do it."

Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values, the Cincinnati group that pushed Ohio's marriage amendment, is supporting little-known conservative David Smith in the GOP primary. But he said DeWine's decision is "the very thing that could put him back in office." "Marriage is the issue today," he told the Dispatch. "Anyone who opposes the marriage amendment is starting to understand that it is a death knell to the family movement. You cannot oppose it and expect the pro-family movement to support you."

DeWine, saying he has "always believed marriage is between a man and a woman," said he voted in 2004 to end a filibuster on a similar amendment. He and other Senate Republicans, however, failed to muster the necessary 60 votes that would have forced a floor vote on the amendment.

But DeWine also expressed reservations about the amendment two years ago. At the time he said he did not like the issue being pushed "in the heat of a presidential campaign." He also said he would prefer to wait until courts ruled on state bans of same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, DeWine cited a decision last year by a federal judge striking down a Nebraska constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage. Nebraska voters had approved the amendment by a wide margin in 2000. DeWine complained about "activist judges who are going against what states are doing." He is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will consider the issue first. Republicans have been accused of attempting to use the amendment as a wedge issue to stir up support in an election year. (The Advocate)

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