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Full Court Pressure

The battle for marriage shifts from voters to lawyers and lobbyists.
2005This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Rose Wilson wouldn't exactly call herself a political activist. The 49-year-old Ohio mother of two had always voted on Election Day. But this year she wanted to do more.

In the months leading up to the election, the highest court in Massachusetts had legalized civil marriage between homosexuals. Lawsuits seeking the same outcome were spreading across the country. Wilson, who works part-time in a gift-basket shop in northwest Dayton, feared her state was next.

Wilson circulated a petition, gathering signatures to get what would become known in Ohio as Issue One—a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships—on the November 2 ballot. A close friend, Renee Abney, launched the local petition initiative "by the leading of the Spirit" after receiving a mass mailing from James Dobson of Focus on the Family (see interview on p. 60).

"I'm very passionate about God's plan for the family," Abney, 42, says. The push for marriage between homosexuals, she says, is not just about "some people wanting more rights. It's about the Enemy trying to alter God's plan." Neither Wilson nor Abney had previously been active in politics. But both women, who are African American, do not consider themselves aligned with the Republican Party.

In just three weeks, the volunteers Abney recruited gathered roughly 1,500 petition signatures. They had become part of a grassroots revolution spreading across the state. By the deadline for submission of the petition last July, various groups statewide had collected more than 557,000 signatures. An energized grassroots network had formed—setting up the 62 percent to 38 percent vote in favor of the new state constitutional ban.

Ten other states—Arkansas, ...

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