Ohio gubernatorial candidate declares support for marriage equality

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The lone Democrat running for governor of Ohio for 2014, Ed FitzGerald, proclaimed his support for LGBT rights, including marriage equality, in an interview he gave to Outlook Columbus.

His viewpoint stands in stark contrast to the current governor, John Kasich, whom FitzGerald will be running against; a Republican, Kasich has told LGBT couples in his state to have private contracts drawn up if they want legal recognition. (A Limited Liability contract can grant some rights to a couple, or even multiple people within a polyamorous relationship, but suffice to say falls far short of the entitlements of marriage.)

FitzGerald told Outlook Columbus, “I believe in full equality for all Ohioans, and that includes the LGBT community, and that includes issues not just related to marriage, but also employment and housing. 

If it’s on the ballot I’m going to vote for it. If something comes across my desk when I’m governor, I’m going to sign it.”

Currently serving as a Cuyahoga County executive, FitzGerald has not previously been known for strongly endorsing a pro-LGBT platform—an especially hot issue in Ohio, where a 2004 constitutional amendment currently bars not only same-sex marriage, but civil unions as well. Since then, however, opinions have changed in Ohio, too; according to the results of a survey by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, released in April 2013, the number of Ohioans in support of marriage equality has surpassed those who oppose it, by 48% to 44%.

In March, Rob Portman became Ohio’s first Republican Senator to announce his support for marriage equality, due to the influence of his gay son. When asked if anything like that could possibly change his mind, Governor Kasich replied, “I don’t support gay marriage… I just think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union that’s fine with me.”

Unfortunately for LGBT Ohioans, even that flimsy support was quickly withdrawn; in less than a day, a spokesperson for the governor, Rob Nichols, released a statement to Buzzfeed that said, “The governor’s position is unchanged. He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and… may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance.”

Freedom Ohio, an organization collecting signatures to put a marriage equality on the ballot, is still deciding if they should push for a statewide vote in November 2013; despite FitzGerald’s declaration of support for the LGBT community, he has also said that it would be “presumptuous” for him to offer an opinion one way or the other.

An April 2013 poll showed that despite the governor’s budget plan being “in shambles”, according to Cleveland Live, the people of Ohio were still largely supporting him, with 46% in favor of reelecting him; only 37% said they would vote for FitzGerald.

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