The Long Road to Marriage Equality
Counties Expected to Issue Licenses
Nearly all Ohio probate courts have indicated their readiness to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with the exception of Belmont, Darke, Highland, Morgan and Scioto counties. Please note that the Supreme Court of Ohio issued an order to lower courts to view family terms as gender neutral in an effort to streamline the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.
Striking Down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 was a big day for the LGBT movement.
First, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down the core of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that it unconstitutionally discriminates against legally married same-sex couples by excluding them from the hundreds of federal benefits and responsibilities given to legally married couples of the opposite sex.
The ACLU argued this case, United States v. Windsor on behalf of Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old widow whose committed relationship with her legal spouse Thea stretched across four decades. When Thea died, Edie was forced under DOMA to pay a large federal estate tax on the home and savings they had shared—taxes she would not have had to pay if Thea had been a man.
Next, SCOTUS struck down California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The high court dismissed the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, on the basis that the supporters of Proposition 8 lacked the legal standing to challenge an earlier court decision which declared it unconstitutional. As a result, the lower court decision is now the law of the land.
The path to full LGBT equality will be longer in Ohio and the many other states with discrimination written into their constitutions, but it is our sincere hope that these two Supreme Court decisions will mark the beginning of the end for government sanctioned discrimination against the LGBT community.
Click here for more information on United States v. Windsor
Click here for more information on Hollingsworth v. Perry
Why Marriage Matters: The Ohio Campaign
The ACLU of Ohio Foundation was proud to participate in the launch of Why Marriage Matters Ohio (WMMO), a marriage equality education campaign supporting the right for any loving, committed Ohio couple to marry. The Founders of WMMO (Equality Ohio Education Fund, Freedom to Marry, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Ohio), announced the formation of the coalition today, September 9th, 2013.
“We are committed to bringing full equality to every Ohioan in all aspects of life. That means employment equality, housing equality, and marriage equality,” said ACLU Foundation of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “The Supreme Court’s DOMA decision sounded the call that these inequalities will no longer stand. Any couple who commits to marriage should receive the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities.”
Senator Sherrod Brown spoke at the Cleveland launch. “All Americans should able to marry the person they love, and they should be able celebrate that love in Ohio. Full rights should not vary by geographical lines. Why Marriage Matters Ohio will bring this issue of equal rights to the forefront,” he said.
A recent poll of voters in Ohio done by the Public Religion Research Institute shows support for marriage equality in a dead heat at 47% on both sides. Why Marriage Matters Ohio was created to bring marriage equality to the forefront.
The ACLU of Ohio Foundation’s participation in WMMO is part of a strategic, nationwide effort to secure LGBT equality. From the ACLU’s successful defeat of DOMA in the Supreme Court, to targeted litigation, to ending workplace and housing discrimination at the state and national levels, the ACLU is committed to relegating discrimination against gay and lesbian couples to the dustbin of history.
The ACLU has answers. “After DOMA: What it Means For You” is a fact sheet series that details many of the ways federal agencies accord legal respect to married same-sex couples. The guide includes 14 factsheets on the following topics: Bankruptcy, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Federal Employee Benefits, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Immigration, Medicaid, Medicare, Military Spousal Benefits, Private Employment Benefits, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Taxes, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Veteran Spousal Benefits.
You can find the factsheets on the ACLU’s website here.
Same-Sex Marriages From Other States Recognized in Ohio
In April 2014, Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who are legally married in other states. The decision does not require Ohio to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It only requires Ohio to recognize marriages performed in other states.