Equality matters

Ohioans may have the opportunity to vote on same-sex marriage in the state, should the Freedom to Marry Coalition successfully get an initiative on ballots in 2013.

The proposed amendment would repeal a 2004 amendment that banned same-sex marriages and civil unions, while giving religious institutions the freedom to choose which couples it marries.

Opponents of same-sex unions argue that same-sex marriage violates the sanctity of the marriage institution.

The Ohio Constitution protects individuals’ rights of free speech and free conscience, and we support their exercise.

But state government has no business legislating righteousness. America is a mosaic made of many colors, cultures and creeds. Individual liberties must be guaranteed for all — or liberty and justice are just hollow words.

Among the inalienable rights guaranteed to Ohioans is the right to seek and obtain happiness.

Apparently, homosexuals are limited in their pursuit.

Without the benefits of marriage, a homosexual may not be able to visit his or her partner in the hospital because he or she is not legally defined as next of kin.

In states that don’t recognize homosexual unions, only one partner can legally adopt a child. The other parent, who may love the child just as much, has no rights to make decisions for that child. Worse, if the parents split up, one would have no rights of visitation, and the other would have no rights to child support.

People in unrecognized unions can’t jointly file their taxes. They can’t be added to their partners’ insurance policies. They can’t inherit property without paying large sums in taxes.

Most people take for granted a myriad of other benefits without which could seriously hinder one’s ability to seek and obtain happiness.

Wedding days are often described as the happiest days of someone’s life. Depriving homosexuals of that same experience denies them of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Judges and politicians should never hold the fate of another person’s love life in their hands. Ideally, voters in Ohio shouldn’t even get to decide; it should just be.

However, this appears to be the only way to allow homosexual couples to express their love.

Before all else, marriages in the U.S. are legal unions between couples. They exist between the people who make them.

Religious and morally charged opinions belong in the public square, not in public policy.