Marriage equality law simply the right thing to do

Last year, my daughter Corbin married a woman named Jessica Gelman in a beautiful ceremony in Massachusetts. My wife, Nancy, and I feel blessed to have a new daughter-in-law, and to see Corbin so happy and secure. This is what every parent hopes for their child – that they will have the chance to build a life of purpose with someone who loves and supports them.

And what a life they are building together. This year, Nancy and I learned Corbin and Jessica are expecting and we cannot wait to see our new grandson, and for their family – our daughter, our daughter-in-law and their child – to visit us here in Ohio.

Our grandson will be born in Massachusetts where there is no question that Corbin and Jessica are the child’s legal parents. For Corbin to have the legal right to care for and best protect our grandson during a visit to Ohio, she must legally adopt her own child and carry the paperwork with her to prove she is a legal guardian here where same-gender marriages are banned.

Corbin’s happiness throughout the past year has proven to me that marriage equality is a necessity for our society. Our way of life as Americans has not been weakened, but rather strengthened by the increasing support for marriage equality throughout the country. As states have begun to embrace same-sex marriage, we have not lost our commitment to essential family values. Instead, we’ve encouraged a new generation of Americans to prioritize marriage and the family stability it creates.

For these and many other reasons, I’m supporting FreedomOhio, the campaign to bring a Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to voters. As its name suggests, this initiative is rooted in a central conservative value, namely, freedom the freedom to love, the freedom of religion, and the freedom from big government.

The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment appeals to my belief in an efficient, limited government. This proposal will ensure that our state government can no longer insert itself into the most personal aspects of a couple’s life together. Instead, it will enhance individual freedom and responsibility by allowing every Ohioan to marry the person they choose, and receive the legal benefits that many are not currently entitled to under the law. By also delegating matters of faith to religious institutions, this ballot initiative empowers these communities to define marriage according to their own beliefs.

I believe that a happy, loving marriage is the foundation of a stable family. Nancy and I have been married for more than 40 years. Together, we’ve raised two remarkable children, written a book, and have each been blessed with the happiness and strength that a loving partnership provides.

I am so thankful for the breadth of joy that my marriage has brought to my life, and it seems only right that all individuals should be free to pursue this happiness for themselves, no matter with whom they fall in love. I strive to always treat others the way I would like to be treated, and I believe this policy does just that. By encouraging loving couples to get married, we are building stronger, more stable families. Our state should make it easier, not harder, for couples to make this commitment to each other.

On a more pragmatic level, this initiative is a common sense idea that will foster a climate of innovation here in Ohio. As Chancellor of the Board of Regents, I worked diligently to strengthen Ohio’s public colleges and universities and build our state’s competitiveness. We face a serious brain drain threat, particularly among younger generations. For our state to prosper into the future, it is essential that Ohio is a beacon of economic and cultural opportunity. Passing this amendment sends the message that our state is dynamic and eager to welcome any talented individual.

Finally, this ballot initiative represents one of the major civil rights struggles of our time. Change is happening around us. When given the opportunity to embrace a more inclusive understanding of love and marriage, our fellow Americans are voting in support of marriage equality.

It is time that we join them. It makes political and economic sense, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the America and world we want for our daughter, our daughter-in-law, our grandson, our family and yours.

Jim Petro was the Republican Ohio State Auditor from 1995-2003, Ohio Attorney General from 2003 to 2007, and ran for governor in 2006. Petro was chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents from 2011-2013. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives and as a Cuyahoga County Commissioner.