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Ohio still against gay marriage, marijuana

Courtesy of MCT

When it comes to same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana, some Ohio State students would argue that Ohio’s thinking is still conservative.
On Nov. 6, Maine and Maryland voted to allow same-sex marriages. The two states joined New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington, Vermont and the District of Columbia in passing the law. All other states, including Ohio, stand behind the Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1996, which bans gay marriage.
Some OSU students said they were happy to see additional states recognize gay marriage on Election Day.
“I was very happy,” said Garett Heysel, president of Scarlet and Gay. “For me and I think for many people, both gay and straight, it’s more a question of civil rights, the ability to have the same rights that straight people are for, when they are allowed to marry and move from state to state.”
According to the Ohio Constitution, “only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.”
It also says “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.”
Although Ohio does not recognize gay marriage, it had the seventh highest population of same-sex households within a state in 2011, with 21,432, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. California had the highest number, with 87,078 same-sex households. Of the top seven states, only New York, which was ranked as No. 3 with 44,319, has legislation in place allowing gay marriage.
“I think there are certain parts of the American population that are going to take longer to convince that it’s OK and that society is not gonna go to hell in (a) hand basket because same-sex couples are allowed to marry,” Heysel said.
In 2004 Ohio had an issue on the ballot that proposed constitutionally defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The issue passed, and President George W. Bush, who announced his support for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage earlier that year, was re-elected to a second term with the support of Ohio voters.
Despite Ohio’s stronghold against same-sex marriage in the past decade, Garrett Nunn, a third-year in international studies and Spanish, said he thinks the fact that same-sex marriage has been passed in so many states is a “huge step.”
“I think within the next four years it will just continue to be passed (in other states), and the fact that Ohio hasn’t passed it yet isn’t really discouraging to me because I’ve seen it happen in other places,” Nunn said.
According to an article by the Columbus Dispatch, gay marriage supporters are attempting to collect signatures to get “The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment” on the Ohio ballot in November 2013.
The petition being circulated says the amendment will: “Allow two consenting adults freedom to enter into a marriage regardless of gender. Give religious institutions freedom to determine whom to marry. Give religious institutions protection to refuse to perform a marriage,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Heysel said a lot of the organizations that helped those amendments pass in the different states are mobilizing right now, targeting the other states.
The legalization of gay marriage wasn’t the only controversial issue that passed on Nov. 6.
Colorado and Washington passed measures legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational use for anyone 21 years old and older. Federal law, however, still says marijuana is an illegal drug.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation showed that in 2011, the highest number of arrests in the United States were drug abuse violations (estimated at more than 1.5 million arrests), which is almost as much as the population of Idaho. Of these arrests, 49.5 percent were made because of marijuana, which is almost 10 times more than other synthetic or manufactured drug arrests. In Ohio, the possession of more than 200 grams of marijuana is a felony and can be punished with prison time.
Jake Evans, a first-year in business, said he would welcome the idea of legalizing the plant in Ohio. He thinks it will have a positive effect on the economy and the crime rate.
“I think it would help the drug problem and obviously cut back on taxpayer money as far as jailing people goes because there will be a lot less crimes compared to drugs being sold and people being put in jail for drugs,” Evans said.
Dawn Bartley, a fourth-year in social work, believes that marijuana is less harmful than some other painkillers, and she wishes there was more consistency with regulations on marijuana from state to state.
“I think you are either a person who is going to (use marijuana) or you are a person who is not going to do that. And I don’t think it being legal is going to make somebody more abets to do it,” Bartley said.
Some OSU students said the changing state regulations are a step in the right direction.
“It shows how the country is progressing,” Nunn said, “and I’m sure it’ll continue to happen.”

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