If it took nearly 400,000 signatures for your cause to be noticed, would you keep going?
Stephen Letourneau and Ian James, the founders of Freedom to Marry Ohio, won’t stop for anything. With the guidance of Wittenberg senior Jen Miller, Founders played host to the first campus kick-off petition-signing event on Nov. 6, where students in support of seeing the issue of gay marriage appear on the ballot for 2014 could put their support in writing. Letourneau and James attended the event with other essential contributors to what is now the largest equality group in Ohio.
By the end of the night, 203 students signed in support of the 46-word Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom amendment, which reads: “In the State of Ohio and its political subdivisions, marriage shall be a union of two consenting adults not nearer of kin than second cousins, and not having a husband or wife living, and no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.” By design, the amendment gives religious institutions the option of whether or not they will officiate gay marriages. As Letourneau stated, the amendment is meant to “repeal and replace the horrible marriage ban.”
Support for the movement has been growing all semester; Miller, who is the first campus coordinator for this campaign, remarked that they received “several hundred signatures at homecoming” earlier this semester. Greater dents will be made in the 385,245-signature requirement as more petition events are held in the spring and early next fall. However, Letourneau stated that the real goal is to get “one-million signatures for marriage” from 44 different counties, which would not only guarantee that the amendment appears on 2014’s ballot, but would also demonstrate resounding support for the marriage rights for all people.
Students will have more opportunities to not only sign the petition, but also to register to vote as more Freedom to Marry Ohio events are organized. With internship opportunities available in the spring, students can lend their support through hands-on experience with the campaign. Volunteers are also in high demand given the amount of collaboration these events require. As Miller stated, “Anything big or small is super appreciated.”