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Village Council — Yellow Springs backs marriage equality

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At their March 16 meeting, Village Council members unanimously passed a resolution supporting marriage equality, making the Village the third municipality in Ohio to endorse same-sex marriage.

“This is one of those times that make me proud …” said Council President Karen Wintrow as the vote passed, 4–0, with Wintrow, Brian Housh, Marianne MacQueen and Gerry Simms supporting the resolution. Council member Lori Askeland was absent from the meeting. There was little discussion before the vote.

According to the resolution:

Whereas, the Yellow Springs community has a long history of agitating for justice, from working for the abolition of slavery as a stop on the Underground Railroad to active participation in the Civil Rights Movement to consistently being an open and inclusive community that values diversity and continues to welcome many LGBTQ citizens; 

Whereas, the Village of Yellow Springs in 2009 established a domestic partnership registry that prohibits discrimination or intimidation based on sexual orientation; and

Whereas, unfortunately, even as justice and equality sweep the nation, Ohio remains among a minority of states that do not permit loving same-sex couples to marry, thereby denying them the ability to protect and provide for their families while depriving them of the many legal, economic and social benefits of marriage; and;

Whereas, Yellow Springs Village Council will continue to speak out for equality and justice as we eagerly await the day Ohio takes its place on the right side of history …”

According to Housh on Tuesday, the idea for a resolution was brought to the Human Relations Commission, or HRC, by Council member Marianne MacQueen, who was aware that the Athens City Council had approved a similar document. A draft was crafted by HRC member Aaron Saari, then the group, along with Council representative Housh, reviewed the draft and recommended that Council approve it.

While the action is largely symbolic, it is important for the continuing effort to allow same-sex marriage in Ohio, Grant Stancliff, communications director for Equality Ohio, said on Tuesday. Ohio is one of only 13 states in the nation that continues to ban same-sex marriage.

“As more and more cities make an outward show of support, it makes it easier for statewide officials to come around” on the issue, he said.

And the resolution timing is especially important because the U.S. Supreme Court will be ruling soon on the Ohio same-sex marriage ban, according to Christopher Geggie, the campaign manager of Why Marriage Matters Ohio, in an interview Tuesday. Earlier this year, the Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the issue from cases in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. The hearing will take place April 28. The court ruling will determine whether the 2004 Ohio referendum that bans same-sex marriage violates the 14th amendment in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits government from denying citizens equal protection under the law.

“Now more than ever, it’s important” for same-sex marriage supporters to make their voices heard, Geggie said.

In Ohio, along with Columbus, Athens and Yellow Springs, the counties of Franklin and Lucas have passed resolutions in support of marriage equality.

Also, last week Yellow Springs Mayor David Foubert joined 225 other mayors, including those of the five largest cities in the country, in signing a friend-of-the-court amicus brief urging the court to support same-sex marriage.

Other items on Council’s March 16 agenda, including a continuing discussion on who is responsible for paying delinquent utility bills, will be covered in next week’s News.

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