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Opinion: FreedomOhio comes to campus

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Last Saturday, the Ohio University College Democrats and FreedomOhio teamed up to get enough signatures for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to be put on Ohio’s November 2014 ballot.

The drive took place under a tent outside Athens’ courthouse in order to collect signatures for the petition. Although rain threatened to ruin the turnout, many were still eager to put their support behind the initiative.

Ian James, the co-founder of FreedomOhio, said that the goal of the organization is to get one million signatures before the deadline. A volunteer with the organization said that the petition needs 385,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.

Most people understand the Freedom to Marry part of the amendment, but some are curious as to the religious freedom aspect of it.

“Religious freedom is included to allow any religious group to say that they don’t want us to be married in that church, but it also gives them the freedom to say that they want it,” said James Hancock, a volunteer.

The most vocal and outspoken opponents against same sex marriage tend to be either conservatives and/or the religious. The Bible is often referred to for condemning homosexual behavior. Many conservatives believe that same sex relations threaten the sanctity of marriage.

But there are also opponents to gay marriage from within the gay community itself. Some gay people feel as though the things that must happen in order to get same sex marriage passed includes normalizing what it means to be gay. This means creating some kind of ideal identity to what it means to be gay and thereby, excluding all other deviant expressions of sexuality that stray from what is considered mainstream. This is sometimes known as anti-assimilation into the mainstream culture, an idea defended by Harry Hay, a lifelong gay activist and one of the founders for the Mattachine Society in 1950. Professor John D’Emilio, from the University of Illinois and University of Chicago said, “Hay was a self-taught intellectual who advocated an anti-assimilationist view of gay culture. Warning of the dangers of imitation, he emphasized uniqueness and difference as positive attributes of homophile culture.”

Today, the old slogan “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” has now become, “Our love is the same as yours”. Although opposition to marriage equality exists not only from the outside but from within, it seems that a majority of Ohioans are beginning to support same sex marriage. Marriage provides financial help to families and allows partners to be a registered couple so that they have the same visitation rights and estate rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. A Washington Post poll in September 2012 that said 52 percent of voters support same sex marriage. With a growing majority of Ohioans becoming more supportive of same sex marriage proposals, 385,000 signatures in order to get the amendment on the ballot is more than doable.

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