US: Gay soldier booed at GOP presidential debate joins Ohio equal marriage effort

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An openly gay US soldier who was booed during a Republican presidential debate in 2011 for asking if potential candidates would undo moves towards gay equality, has joined efforts to lift the state of Ohio’s ban on equal marriage.

Stephen Snyder-Hill, a resident of Columbus, was confirmed on Friday to be involved in outreach efforts by FreedomOhio, which looks to lift the ban.

During a 2011 presidential debate, Snyder-Hill, who said he previously had to lie about himself to keep his job, asked the candidates: “Under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”

As the video finished, he was booed and heckled by audience members. The candidates did not condemn the crowd’s behaviour.

Rick Santorum also replied that he would reinstate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, if he became president.

At the time, Barack Obama criticised Republican presidential candidates for staying silent when a gay soldier was booed at an Orlando debate. 

FreedomOhio hopes to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot for Ohio later this year or next, which would remove the 2004 amendment which banned equal marriage.

The Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment would also include language to specify that religious organisations would not be forced to perform or recognise same-sex marriages.

When the amendment banning equal marriage was made in 2004, 62% of Ohio voters were in favour of it, however recent polls have suggested a new and rapid shift towards supporting equal marriage in the US.

Earlier this week, one of the key players in President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in the state, Greg Schulz, joined the campaign as a member of its executive committee.