- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The judicial climate on gay marriage may be tumultuous, but opinions on the issue in Ohio’s top statewide races remain predictably tied to a candidate’s political party.

Republican Gov. John Kasich and GOP Attorney General Mike DeWine support marriage between a man and a woman.

Kasich told The Associated Press this week that he supports Ohio’s 2003 constitutional amendment upholding heterosexual marriage and doesn’t have any plans for that to change. He said he’s awaiting the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals out of Cincinnati to rule on the issue like everyone else.

“We have a constitutional amendment here, and it remains in place until something changes,” Kasich said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and attorney general candidate David Pepper support gay marriage and praise federal court rulings that have upheld it in other states.

FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, portrays himself as the first gubernatorial candidate in state history to support “full equality” in marriage, employment and housing, telling potential contributors “we deserve a governor who will make sure Ohio is on the right side of history.”

DeWine continues to defend Ohio’s constitutional ban in court. Campaign spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said that’s the attorney general’s job.

“It’s the most unkept secret in the world that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman,” Stubenrauch said of the devout Catholic DeWine. “But his personal opinion has absolutely no effect on whether Ohio appeals things or not. … If Ohio had voted 10 years ago to legalize gay marriage, he would have vigorously defended that.”

Pepper, a Cincinnati lawyer, criticized DeWine for appealing an April ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black that called the ban unconstitutional and unenforceable. Pepper cited a court filing in an unrelated case in which DeWine argued that the attorney general’s “duty to defend is not limitless.”

Ian James, co-founder of the pro-gay marriage group FreedomOhio, said he believes attitudes - particularly among younger voters - are evolving on the issue of gay marriage and he expects a shift among Ohio political leaders after this election.

“Kasich’s saying, ‘Look, if the courts decide this, whatever. If the voters decide it, whatever. But I’m going to be focused on jobs and not get involved in this messy social issue,’” James said. “For him, it’s a smart place to be politically, but that’s changing.”

Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, said he doesn’t believe the many Ohio voters who oppose gay marriage are going to change their position just because the country’s political winds may be shifting.

“Obviously, as people of faith, we’re not going to change our views and values as to what may happen in the general society or as the court makes decisions,” he said. “In our view, it’s not over for any stretch of the imagination. We will continue to defend traditional marriage.”

While some high-profile Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, now support gay marriage, most opponents still see the party as home.

“The Republican party platform affirms traditional marriage, affirms pro-life, affirms family values,” Long said. “So, yeah, our values-voters are going to support the Republican Party.”

Kasich sees an evolution in what’s seen as conservatism, noting that he’s “never found the room where these so-called people dictate policy.”

“The platform doesn’t mean diddly to normal people out there,” he told the AP. “You think somebody ever read … I’ve never read the Republican platform. I mean, who reads a platform?”

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