Confusing news coming out of Ohio today regarding marriage equality plans.
Earlier today from FreedomOhio came word of an impending plan to place marriage equality on the November 2014 ballot.
FreedomOhio co-founder Ian James said in a statement:
“We have decided to be on the ballot in 2014 to allow for a continuing dialogue with voters across Ohio about why marriage matters. We will continue to build upon the hundreds of thousands of conversations we’ve had already, to identify supportive voters, and to raise the resources necessary to mobilize a full-on campaign.”
“We are also excited to announce that the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Ohio, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, National Freedom to Marry, the Gill Action Fund, the American Unity Fund and the BISC met today and discussed how to become involved in the campaign to bring marriage equality to Ohio in 2014.”
HOWEVER, it seems Ian James may have jumped the gun in releasing any statement that included the national LGBT organizations. From Chris Geidner:
A representative of one of the organizations in the meeting, however, said no agreements had been reached as to the timing of going to the ballot and no plan was discussed regarding the news release issued by FreedomOhio on Wednesday. Another person confirmed that characterization.
The release did include a quote from Equality Ohio, the group formed in the aftermath of the 2004 ballot fight.
“Today’s meeting was only the beginning of the effort to chart a strategic plan to achieve marriage equality in Ohio,” said Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio. “We all recognize our responsibility to Ohioans to make sure we get this right. And I know that together, we will. When we do move forward it will be with the same strong partners as the other successful states.”
And then came this statement from Freedom To Marry addressing their reaction to the press release from FreedomOhio:
A group of state and national organizations leading the fight to win marriage for all families in Ohio and across the country sought to clarify misleading characterizations put forward by Ian James’s Freedom Ohio following a meeting to discuss a strategy for winning the freedom to marry at the ballot box in Ohio.
However, contrary to the assertions made by Ian James in an unapproved statement, there was no agreement reached to put forward a ballot initiative in 2014 or any other specific date. Instead, all of the groups in attendance, including Freedom Ohio and nearly a dozen other leading organizations, agreed to work together to talk to Ohio voters about why marriage matters and strengthen our coalition in the months ahead, reserving judgment on the timing of a ballot initiative until a clear pathway to victory could be determined and carried out.
“Ohio families deserve to win marriage as soon as possible. And our national partners have won marriage equality in 13 jurisdictions. We are putting together a strong, honest coalition and a responsible plan to win,” said Elyzabeth Holford, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “We intend to win and will do everything necessary to secure fairness for same-sex couples and their families.”
“We are committed to winning marriage in Ohio as soon as possible, and to developing the kind of robust campaign that has helped us achieve historic victories across the country,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry. “What we need to do now is to engage in the real work to increase public support so we can win on the ballot—in 2016, or if possible sooner.”
“Ian James must have attended a different meeting than the rest of us,” said Marty Rouse, National Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign. “Representatives from 11 state and national organizations participated in today’s meeting. Ten of them came away with a clear understanding that we would refrain from deciding on timing until it was responsible to do so. We’re perplexed as to how Freedom Ohio came away with a different understanding.”
At the invitation of Equality Ohio, representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio, national ACLU, the Equality Federation, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the American Unity Fund and Gill Action convened for today’s conversations to discuss strategy, timing and a plan to win marriage in Ohio.