Ohio Issue 1, the Marriage Amendment (2004)

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The Ohio Marriage Amendment, also known as Issue 1, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved.[1] This amendment mandates that only a marriage between one man and one woman may be valid in or recognized by the state.

Election results

Ohio Issue 1 (2004)
Approveda Yes 3,329,335 61.71%

Election results via the Ohio Secretary of State.[2]

Text of measure

See also: Ohio Constitution, Article XV, Section 11

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

(Proposed by Initiative Petition)

Be it Resolved by the People of the State of Ohio:

That the Constitution of the State of Ohio be amended by adopting a section to be designated as Section 11 of Article XV thereof, to read as follows:

Article XV

Section 11. Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. 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.

A majority yes vote is necessary for passage

Shall the proposed amendment be adopted? [4]


Arguments in favor

The following reasons were given in support of Issue 1 by the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage:[3]

Vote YES on Issue 1 to preserve in Ohio law the universal, historic institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and to protect marriage against those who would alter and undermine it.


  • Issue 1 establishes in the Ohio Constitution the historic definition of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman as husband and wife.
  • Issue 1 excludes from the definition of marriage homosexual relationships and relationships of three or more persons.
  • Issue 1 prohibits judges in Ohio from anti-democratic efforts to redefine marriage, such as was done by a bare majority of the judges of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which ordered that same-sex “marriage” be recognized in that state.
  • Issue 1 restricts governmental bodies in Ohio from using your tax dollars to give official status, recognition and benefits to homosexual and other deviant relationships that seek to imitate marriage.


  • Issue 1 does not interfere in any way with the individual choices of citizens as to the private relationships they desire to enter and maintain.
  • Issue 1 does not interfere in any way with government benefits granted to persons in non-marital homosexual relationships, so long as the government does not grant those benefits to such persons specifically for the reason that the relationship is one that seeks to imitate marriage.

The wisdom of the ages tells us that marriage between one man and one woman is critical to the well being of our children and to the maintenance of the fundamental social institution of the family. Please vote to preserve marriage on November 2, 2004.


The official ballot book arguments in favor of Issue 1 were signed by Reverend K.Z. Smith, Lori Viars, and Phil Burress.

Campaign contributions

Two committees supported the amendment, the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage and the Traditional Marriage Crusade. The first committee spent $1,194,808, while the latter spent less than $10,000.

The principal donors to the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage was a group called "Citizens for Community Values," which gave $1.182 million. The size of the next largest contribution was $2,000.[5]


Arguments against

The following reasons were given in opposition of Issue 1 by Ohioans Protecting the Constitution:[3]

It Hurts Families.

If passed, Issue 1 will eliminate rights, benefits and protections for all unmarried couples in Ohio. Claims that it merely restates Ohio’s long-standing definition of marriage are untrue. Even Defense of Marriage Act author State Representative Bill Seitz said the amendment is poorly written and too ambiguous. Governor Taft and Attorney General Petro say it goes too far.
While claiming to protect Ohio families, Issue 1 actually punishes:

  • Seniors living together to protect pension benefits
  • Unmarried couples seeking to jointly own property
  • People who receive health benefits from domestic partner plans
  • Unmarried women seeking maternity leave
  • Adopted children of unmarried couples

If this amendment passes, even an unmarried person’s right to leave property to a partner could not be recognized by Ohio courts.
Referring to leaders behind the amendment, The Canton Repository said...

  • "They make no bones about wanting to make life as difficult as possible for all couples, gay or straight, who don’t toe their moral line."

It Hurts Ohio’s Economy.
Leading economic and legal experts agree that Issue 1 would have a negative impact on our struggling economy. The editorial page editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer stated in a recent editorial that this amendment would cost the state thousands of jobs, and help perpetuate Ohio’s "long and relentless dive to the bottom." Crain’s Cleveland Business summed up the economic impact by stating,

  • "The ability to offer such benefits [domestic partner benefits] is a critical tool to many companies and universities in Ohio."

The article concluded the editorial by saying...

  • Regardless of your feelings about gay marriage, this amendment deserves to be defeated because it is anti-business and anticompetitive."[4]

The ballot book arguments opposing Issue 2 were written by Alan Melamed and Mary Jo Hudson.

Campaign contributions

The committee opposing the amendment was called Ohioans Protecting the Constitution, or Ohioans for Fairness. The largest donors to this committee, which spent $942,421 altogether, were:[6]

  • Human Rights Campaign, $384,145.
  • David Maltz, $101,383.
  • Bruce Bastian, $25,000.
  • Nationwide Mutual Insurance, $20,000.
  • Gerald Springer, $20,000.

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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