Supporters of an effort to repeal Ohio's gay marriage ban picked up a prominent Republican backer Monday in the form of former state attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro.
Petro came out for marriage equality last year, when he announced that his daughter, Corbin, had legally married her partner in Massachusetts. He opposed same-sex marriage during his 2006 campaign for governor. On Monday, however, he made his support official for a forthcoming 2014 ballot effort to overturn a ban on gay marriage passed by voters in 2004.
At a press conference, Petro said he "quickly and without hesitation said 'I'm all for it,'" when organizers asked for his help, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Petro now joins marriage equality group FreedomOhio in its mission to gather at least 385,245 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters on petitions by July 3, 2014, in order to qualify for next year’s general election ballot. The signatures must come from at least 44 counties, according to the Dispatch.
Ohio's Issue 1 gay marriage ban passed with overwhelming support in 2004, taking nearly 62 percent of the vote. A poll conducted earlier this year showed that opinions in the state have changed greatly on the issue, however, with 48 percent of respondents expressing support for same-sex marriage rights. Another survey showed that a majority of Ohioans would support an effort to repeal Issue 1.
The campaign to overturn Ohio's gay marriage ban now has support from two high-profile Republicans. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced a similar reversal on the marriage equality issue earlier this year, citing his gay son as a reason why he believed same-sex couples should be allowed to get married. In an interview last month, Portman said he believed the ban should be reversed.