Ohio may soon be the 13th state to vote on an amendment banning same-sex marriage this fall. The states 88 county elections boards are continuing to verify a new batch of signatures after a state appeals court turned down a challenge seeking to throw out the petitions.
Amendment opponents sued Wednesday, contending that the proposed amendment is too ambiguous to be considered since it lacked a state-mandated summary stating the amendments intention.
But on Monday, the appellate court ruled that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate their right" to discard the petitions.
"There is no right to require the secretary of state to reject the petitions for lack of a summary," said Donald Brey, special counsel to Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.
Brev cited a court ruling in which Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Daniel Hogan said the state law requiring the summary is unconstitutional since it would impeded the petition process when the proposed amendment is so short.
"You don't throw out all these petitions at this point on a technicality that has already been ruled upon four or five months ago, Brev said.
The 55-word proposal, dubbed Marriage Protection Amendment (MPA), would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only and prohibit the state from granting benefits of married couples to non-married couples.
The language of MPA reads: "Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage."
In order for the amendment to reach the Nov. 2 ballot, supporters of the amendment led by Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage (OCPM) had to submit 323,000 signatures from registered Ohio voters.
In early August, the group submitted nearly 400,000 signatures. Last week, the group turned in 144,000 more signatures after Blackwell notified them they had fallen short by more than 42,000.
Alan Melamed, head of the campaign opposing the amendment, said the group has not decided whether it will appeal the ruling, reported the Associated Press. However, legal challenges have been filed against the first batch of signatures in about 40 counties.
On Aug. 3, Missouri became the first state to vote on such an initiative, which was approved by 71 percent of voters. Louisiana surpassed expectations on Saturdays ballot election, tallying 78 percent of voters in support of a same-sex marriage ban.
Over 60% of Ohioans favor the MPA, according to a survey released Monday on The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.
Ten other states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah, will vote on similar amendments on Nov. 2.