Supreme Court's Pass on Appeals Doesn't Shake Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Ohio

ideastream file photo by Brian Bull
ideastream file photo by Brian Bull
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The Supreme Court’s decision to turn away appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin means 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state where same-sex marriages are or will be recognized.

However, Ohio isn’t one of them.

But Al Gerhardstein, who’s the attorney in two cases filed against Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, said he thinks it hints it will fall.

“You’ve got so many people able to married across the country, and then they come to Ohio and their marriage won’t be recognized?" Gerhardstein said. "I sure hope that’s not the result, but obviously if it is, we will appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Gerhardstein’s cases involve birth certificates for children of same-sex couples and death certificates of people who were married in other states and want their legal same-sex partner to be listed as a surviving spouse. He and other activists are now waiting on a ruling on the Ohio cases from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court in Cincinnati.

Ian James is with the group FreedomOhio, which has been advocating for same-sex marriage alongside the state’s main LGBT rights group Equality Ohio. The two groups have teamed up to push an amendment that would overturn the same-sex marriage ban in 2016. And James said the decision not to hear these appeals is a positive one for his side, but it doesn’t change his group's approach.

“Freedom Ohio is going to continue to follow the all-of-the-above strategy, and this Supreme Court non-ruling really underscores why that is," James said. "Because there’s no guarantee that this U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule in favor of civil marriage equality. They could very easily rule that it’s still a states’ rights issue.”

On the other side of the issue is the state of Ohio and the advocates who backed the marriage defining amendment that passed in 2004. Phil Burress is with the Citizens for Community Values. He said this decision was expected, and it isn’t the same as a ruling for or against same-sex marriage.

“We’re talking about a license here, and there’s no way in the world that the Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, can tell the states what licenses they have to have and what licenses they don’t have to have," Burress said. "This is a states’ rights issue, clearly, an Article X issue, and they have no business forcing same-sex marriage on 50 states when the vast majority of them don’t want it."

Burress thinks the U.S. Supreme Court is waiting on a decision from the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati on others from appeals in courts around the country before it will move toward a ruling on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional.

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