Gay soldier joins effort to place gay marriage amendment before Ohio voters

By Mark Kovac | R-C Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- A gay soldier who was booed during a GOP primary debate last year after asking a question about homosexuals serving in the military has joined an effort to place a gay marriage amendment before Ohio voters.

Stephen Snyder-Hill and his husband, Josh, will serve on the steering committee for Freedom to Marry Ohio.

"I've been in the military for 24 years of my life fighting for everybody else's freedom except my own," Snyder-Hill said during a press conference near the Statehouse Friday. "The military's been very supportive of everything that I've done, because it's been a good story. It shows that gay soldiers are no different than straight soldiers and we can do just as good of a job."

The Columbus couple plan to assist in an effort to overturn a 2004 constitutional amendment that blocked the state from recognizing gay marriages and civil unions.

Gay marriage advocates have proposed amending the constitution to allow two consenting adults the freedom to marry, regardless of their gender. The proposed amendment also includes language allowing churches to refrain from performing such ceremonies.

The issue would require upward of 380,000 valid petition signatures to qualify for the general election. Backers on Friday declined to comment on how many signatures they have gathered to date, nor would they commit to the November ballot.

On Friday, Snyder-Hill described the challenges of serving in the military as a homosexual and the need to change Ohio's constitution to recognize committed gay relationships.

"Everybody sacrifices a lot when we serve our country," Snyder-Hill said. "Gay people have sacrificed so much more, because just to be able to serve our country, they've had to lie and make up fake pictures and fake names. It's just ridiculous. That's why we really feel like we need to fight this fight."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com.

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