Cuyahoga County executive Ed FitzGerald, the only Democratic candidate currently running in Ohio's 2014 gubernatorial election, announced his support for gay marriage rights in an interview with Outlook Columbus published Tuesday.
“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,” FitzGerald said. “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.”
FitzGerald has taken heat from LGBT groups in the past for perceived timidness on key gay rights issues. But his recent endorsement puts him in the middle of a gay rights debate that has recently picked up steam in Ohio, where voters passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2004.
In March, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) became the first sitting GOP senator to come out in favor of marriage equality when he announced that his gay son had influenced his reversal on the issue. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) responded to the development by saying that he remained opposed to gay marriage. While Kasich initially claimed that he still supported Portman and civil unions, his camp later walked back his support for the partnerships, saying that he had used the term "loosely."
Support for gay marriage in the Buckeye State, meanwhile, has continued to grow. According to a recent poll, support for same-sex marriage beat out opposition, 48 percent to 44 percent. In December, 47 percent of Ohioans opposed gay marriage and 45 percent supported it.
A poll released in April showed Kasich leading FitzGerald 46 percent to 37 percent.
Outlook Columbus is set to release a full story from its interview with FitzGerald in the magazine’s June issue, which will be available to readers later this week. Click over Outlook for more.