U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Four Marriage Cases
January 16th, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the four marriage cases in which the Sixth Circuit turned back an effort to bring marriage equality or marriage recognition in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. According to today’s order: (PDF: 43KB/2 pages) the Court intends to keep the arguments focused on two narrow questions:
The cases are consolidated and the petitions for writs of certiorari are granted limited to the following questions: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? A total of ninety minutes is allotted for oral argument on Question 1. A total of one hour is allotted for oral argument on Question 2. The parties are limited to filing briefs on the merits and presenting oral argument on the questions presented in their respective petitions. The briefs of petitioners are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, February 27, 2015. The briefs of respondents are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, March 27, 2015. The reply briefs are to be filed on or before 2 p.m., Friday, April 17, 2015.
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog believes that oral arguments may take place in late April with a final ruling “probably in late June.” He adds:
Although the Court said explicitly that it was limiting review to the two basic issues, along the way the Justices may have to consider what constitutional tests they are going to apply to state bans, and what weight to give to policies that states will claim to justify one or the other of the bans.
The single MOST important thing to Rep. Bill Hayes
January 9th, 2015
Hayes is the Representative to the Ohio House of Representatives from the 71st District, a rural chunk of dirt between Columbus and Cleveland. And he holds his Republican values with pride (candidate site)
Bill is “Rock Solid” on –
- Smaller Government
- Protection of the Unborn
- Lower Taxes/Less Spending
- Gun rights
- Quality Education
- Securing Our Borders
But though he left if off the list, there is one value, one singular issue, which is more important than any of these. So important, in fact, that Bill Hayes wrote a letter to the Newark Advocate editor to explain how this issue trumps all others.
Here’s Bill telling us why he isn’t endorsing fellow Republican Senator Rob Portman:
I am very much in line with the Senator on many, in fact most, issues such as his conservative approach to fiscal matters, the 2nd amendment, health care, education, school prayer, and most family issues.
However, as a matter of conscience I do not concur with his position that loving homosexual couples should be permitted to “marry”. That view requires me to redefine my strongly held religious view on the institution of “marriage”, a view that, because of conscience, I cannot support and that does not allow me to endorse the senator’s candidacy due to the influence my endorsement may have on others.
I think that when Rep. Hayes runs for re-election he should just leave off all that stuff about guns and smaller government. After all, the truly important thing to Hayes is stopping gay people from getting married.
ACLU To Appeal Sixth Circuit Decision Straight to the U.S. Supreme Court
November 6th, 2014
Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, has announced that they will bypass an en banc review and appeal today’s Sixth Circuit decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse. We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”
Meanwhile, this dissent of today’s decision, written by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Daughtrey, caught my eye. She denounced the majority’s opinion which refused to recognize the judiciary’s responsibility for guaranteeing the rights of all Americans (PDF: 309KB/64 pages):
Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.
More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams
She also wonders aloud:
These four cases from our sister circuits provide a rich mine of responses to every rationale raised by the defendants in the Sixth Circuit cases as a basis for excluding same-sex couples from contracting valid marriages. Indeed, it would seem unnecessary for this court to do more than cite those cases in affirming the district courts’ decisions in the six cases now before us. Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split regarding the legality of same-sex marriage that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and an end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threatens. Perhaps that is the case, but it does not relieve the dissenting member of the panel from the obligation of a rejoinder.
Sixth Circuit upholds anti-gay marriage bans
November 6th, 2014
In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the state constitutional bans on marriage of the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said:
When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.
This determination ignores the fact that when animus in present, a minority cannot become the “hero of it’s own stories” as they lack the ability to win in the “customary political processes”. When confronting Goliath on the field of political battle, the only stone in David’s sling is that of judicial protection. Judge Sutton would have David face the giant with no stones at all.
This is, of course, not the end of the story.
It is likely that the plaintiffs will ask for an en banc review and, if they do not prevail in that venue, will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Ohio’s Marriage Equality Push Inches Forward
April 15th, 2014
There have been two developments over the past twenty-four in the push for marriage equality in Ohio. Yesterday, Federal District Judge Timothy Black ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This ruling came two weeks after Judge Black announced his intentions to strike down this portion of Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban.
The case was brought by four same-sex couples who either adopted or are waiting to adopt children and are seeking to have both parents’ names appear on their children’s birth certificates. The scope of this ruling applies to all same-sex couples who were married in other states where same-sex marriage is legal. An earlier ruling in a separate case, also by Judge Black, applied only to the state’s handling of death certificates. Both rulings are stayed pending appeal.
In a second development, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has certified the language of a revision to a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal and replace Ohio’s current state constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. The revision exempts “houses of worship” from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages. Ohio’s current prohibition bans same-sex marriage in the state and prohibits the state from recognizing any other unions from outside the state. The proposed amendment next goes to bipartisan ballot board for review to ensure that the proposal does not address more than one issue. Assuming it passes that review, it will then go to the signature gathering phase for placement on the 2016 ballot.
Judge: Ohio must recognize out-of-state marriages
April 4th, 2014
In December, Federal Judge Timothy Black ruled that if you were a resident of Ohio and if you were legally married to someone of the same sex by another state, the state had to recognize that marriage for purposes of death certificates. We noted at that time that this was a very narrow ruling.
Now the plaintiffs have gone back to Judge Black and requested that he expand his ruling to all state functions, and he has agreed. (ABC)
Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.
“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Black said. “(They’re) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”
Black said he’ll issue the ruling April 14. The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.
Ohio State Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) has announced that he will appeal the ruling to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Is Arizona a Turning Point?
February 27th, 2014
It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:
SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.
Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:
- Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
- The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.
Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.
Ohio cannot summarily divorce dead people
December 23rd, 2013
A federal judge has issued a ruling that finds Ohio’s ban on gay marriages to be unconstitutional. If you married elsewhere. And are now dead. (AP)
A federal judge has declared in a ruling that applies only to death certificates that Ohio’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
In his decision Monday, Judge Timothy Black orders state officials to recognize such unions on death certificates. Although his ruling applies narrowly, his statements about Ohio’s gay-marriage ban are sweeping and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
I know that jurists prefer to issue the least broad ruling possible, one which directly addresses the case before them but not much further, but wow is this one a narrow ruling.
Ohio Man Challenging Marriage Equality Ban Has Died
October 22nd, 2013
John Arthur, who flew to Maryland in July to marry his longtime partner Jim Obergefell, touching off a legal battle to force the state of Ohio to recognize their marriage and those of other same-sex couples, died Tuesday at the age of 48.
Mr. Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011, and his terminal illness played a prominent role in the couple’s decision to marry and in the ensuing legal battle. He and Obergefell had been a couple since 1992 but decided to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
…Although he was bedridden in the last months of his life, the publicity from his court case gave him a link to the outside world as hundreds of people sent gifts, letters and cards of support. Known throughout his life for a sense of optimism and an equal sense of the absurd, Mr. Arthur saw both in the attention their story garnered. “It’s been a swell of anonymous support,” he said in August. “It’s truly the supporters who are seeking us out to congratulate us and acknowledge us and give us words of support and thanks.”
Soon after they married in July, the Cincinnati couple filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court challenging Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Judge Timothy Black issued an injunction requiring the state of Ohio to list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.
City to Gay Bar Owner, Site of Anti-Gay Attacks: Stop Calling 911
September 12th, 2013
Cocktails Lounge, on Cleveland’s West Side, has been the scene of at least two designated hate crimes in less than a week and at least six attacks on patrons since spring. Two weeks ago, Jared Fox was surrounded by a gang of juveniles, beaten and robbed while they shouted anti-gay epithets. These things are the kind of attacks that can happen in any American city, but they’re happening in Cleveland now, where the City’s Director of Public Safety, Martin Flask, is on the case: he sent a letter to the bar’s owners demanding that they stop calling 911 so often:
Our records indicate from September 02, 2012 through September 01, 2013 Cleveland Police Officers and/or Dog warden have been dispatched and responded to your property located at 9208 Detroit Avenue inns for various Calls for service. Repeated calls to the same property place an and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland and on our safety forces. The estimated cost for the city safety forces to respond to your property is approximately $100.00 per call for service.
l am confident that we share the same goal and that you will take the necessary steps to eliminate the repeated calls for police services to your property. Therefore, within 10 days of the date of this letter, you will be required to submit your action plan to the First District Neighborhood Police Commander (623-5105), outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.
Cocktails Lounge manager James Foster was appalled at the letter.
Foster said what’s most frustrating is that the majority of those police calls didn’t have to do with the lounge itself. Instead, managers and patrons called about incidents happening near the lounge.
“It’s your neighborhood bar, everybody knows everybody, everybody’s got nicknames,” said Mary Wishar, a regular at Cocktails who describes the lounge as friendly and safe.
Outrage erupted on social media yesterday after the letter went public. City Councilman Jay Westbrook, who represents the ward where Cocktails is located, said, “Just when we thought we were turning a corner with these incidents, the safety director shot us in the foot.” Mayor Frank Jackson ordered Flask to rescind the letter:
“If I had to do it over again, I would have handled this particular situation differently,” Flask said. “After reviewing this issue with Mayor (Frank) Jackson, he has directed me to rescind the letter and instead set up a meeting with the District Commander and the property owners so that we can work together to address the issues raised by the calls for service to 9208 Detroit Avenue.”
Lyons could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The letter said 13 police reports were filed over the one-year period for everything from fights to robbery. None of the calls, Flask said, involved hate crimes currently being investigated by police.
“(I)t is an early warning letter that the Department of Public Safety sends to property owners to help prevent a location from becoming a ‘nuisance property'” Flask said. “224 such letters have already been sent to various property owners this year.”
Cleveland was selected to host the Gay Games in 2014.
Federal Judge Orders Recognition of Second Ohio Same-Sex Marriage
September 4th, 2013
A U.S. District Judge has ordered that the state of Ohio and local officials to recognize the marriage of a male couple who had married out of state. The case involves William Herbert Ives and David Michener, residents of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming Township, who had been together for eighteen years and were raising three children. They had married in Delaware on July 22. Ives died suddenly on August 27. Judge Timothy Black ordered the state to recognize the couple’s marriage on the state’s death certificate:
Black ruled that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other state officials are restrained from enforcing Ohio’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages. He also ruled that Cincinnati officials cannot accept a death certificate for Ives unless it records his status as married and lists Michener as his surviving spouse.
Judge Black also ruled Michener can join the lawsuit filed by John Arthur and James Obergefell, the Cincinnati couple who had flown to Maryland to marry soon after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Judge Black issued a temporary restraining order requiring the state to list the couple as spouses in the event of Arthur’s death.
Judge grants injunctive relief to Ohio married couple
July 22nd, 2013
John Arthur and Jim Obergefell married last week in Maryland. It is a marriage that is doomed to be short, as Arthur has ALS and is not expected to live much longer.
Upon returning, they sued in Federal Court to have Ohio, their home state, recognize their marriage. In 2004, voters amended the Ohio Constitution to limit recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Today Federal Judge Timothy S. Black ordered that the State of Ohio recognize the marriage and list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.
This Court finds that Plaintiffs have established by clear and convincing evidence their entitlement to injunctive relief. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. 3) is GRANTED, and a temporary restraining order shall issue by separate order, directing, inter alia, that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur whichdoes not record his status as “married” and/or does not record James Obergefell as Mr.Arthur’s “surviving spouse” at the time of Mr. Obergefell’s death, which is imminent.
Ohio recognizes heterosexual marriages in other states that it would not allow to be conducted within its borders (first cousins, for example) provided that the marriage was legal where conducted. While this order is not a ruling on the merits of the case, it seems a foregone conclusion that Judge Black will find for Arthur and Obergefell when this case is determined.
Federal Judge Orders Ohio Officials To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage
July 22nd, 2013
In as stunningly swift development, a Federal Judge has issued a temporary restraining order requiring Ohio state officials to recongize the marriage of John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, who were married two weeks ago in Maryland. Federal District Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio officials to recognize the Cincinnati couple’s out-of-state marriage just as they recognizing marriges performed in other states even when those marriages cannot be performed in Ohio:
Throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio law has been clear: a marriage solemnized outside of Ohio is valid in Ohio if it is valid where solemnized. Thus, for example,under Ohio law, out-of-state marriages between first cousins are recognized by Ohio,even though Ohio law does not authorize marriages between first cousins. Likewise,under Ohio law, out of state marriages of minors are recognized by Ohio, even thoughOhio law does not authorize marriages of minors.
How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single outsame sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot … at least not under the circumstances here.
By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sexmarriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins and marriages of minors), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, likely violates the United States Constitution which guarantees that”No State shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.
The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’”
Judge Black noted that when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, it left in place Section 2, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but:
…the issue whether States canrefuse to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages is now surely headed to the fore.Indeed, just as Justice Scalia predicted in his animated dissent, by virtue of the presentlawsuit, “the state-law shoe” has now dropped in Ohio.
John Arthur is bedridden with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurological disease which robs patients with the ability to walk, move, and eventually breath. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Arthur and Obergefell, partners of 20 years, used donations from friends and relatives to charter a special medical transport plane and fly to Maryland two weeks ago, accompanied by a nurse, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and Arthur’s aunt, who had been ordained specifically to perform the wedding. They married on the tarmac at an airport in Baltimore and immediately returned to their home in Cincinnati. Last Friday, the couple filed a lawsuit in Cincinnati Federal District Court demanding that the State of Ohio recognize their marriage.
Judge Black limited the order to Arthur and Obergefell only, citing the plaintiff’s “strong likelihood of success on the merits” and Arthur’s declining health for the urgency of his order:
…In addition to the alleged denial of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the Court must also consider the fact that Mr. Arthur is in hospice care and death is imminent. Without a temporary restraining order, the official record of Mr. Arthur’s death, and the last official document recording his existence on earth, will incorrectly classify him as unmarried, despite his legal marriage to Mr. Obergefell. The death certificate will also incorrectly fail to record Mr. Obergefell as the “surviving spouse,” which status he lawfully enjoys. Furthermore, Mr. Arthur wants to be buried in his family plot at Spring Grove Cemetery. He also wants Mr. Obergefell to be buried next to him someday. The family plot directive limits those who may be interred in the plot to descendants and married spouses. Thus, without a temporary restraining order, Mr. Arthur’s burial may be delayed or his remains may have to be exhumed when this case is finally decided.
…Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence that the State of Ohio or its citizens will be harmed by the issuance of an order temporarily restraining the enforcement of these provisions against the Plaintiffs in this case. No one beyond Plaintiffs themselves will beaffected by such a limited order at all. Without an injunction, however, the harm toPlaintiffs is severe.
Ohio Couple Challenges State’s Marriage Equality Ban in Federal Court
July 22nd, 2013
Last week, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, partners of 20 years, flew from Cincinnati to Maryland to get married. A trip like that to get married is already complicated enough, but Arthur is in a hospice, suffering from ALS, or Lou Gejrig’s, a neurological disease which, over time, robs patients of their ability to walk, move, talk, and eventually breathe. Aurthur needs around-the-clock care, and a commercial flight was out of the question. After the call went out, friends, family, and total strangers donated aver $12,000 to charter a private plane. They flew to Baltimore, the pilots parked off the runway, and the couple was married on the tarmac. A few minutes later, the couple celebrated with champagne, the pilots climbed back in the cockpit, and the wedding party was back in the sky on the return trip to Ohio.
The Cincinnati Enquirer published a well researched, in-depth story on the couple shortly after they married, illustrating the problems they face in a state which relegates them to legal strangers to each other. Last Friday, Arthur and Obergefell filed suit in Federal Court seeking Ohio’s recognition of their legal marriage. Their attorney, civil rights lawyer Alphonse Gerhardstein, noted some of the absurdities of Ohio’s marriage law:
“(T)he marriages of opposite-sex couples that are legal in other states but would not be allowed in Ohio – e.g., marriages of first cousins or a young partner – are routinely accepted in Ohio if those marriages are legal in the state where they are celebrated,” the suit notes.
The suit seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction, hoping to allow Arthur’s death certificate to reflect that his status at death was “married.” That is more important now, the suit notes, because Arthur is gravely ill.
“It is the final record of a citizen’s life. It must be accurate,” Obergefell said of the death certificate.
Another GOP Pol Takes the Portman Route As Ohio Kicks Off Petition Drive To Reverse Marriage Ban
July 8th, 2013
Former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who oversaw the state’s 2004 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage and all other forms of partnership recognition, is now supporting the effort to overturn that ban. As Timothy Kincaid reported last week, the former GOP AG’s endorsement of the ban’s reversal had been expected. But today’s announcement goes much further, with Petro being the star speaker at a news conference announcing the start of a massive signature gathering campaign by Freedom Ohio to get the proposal rescinding of the constitutional amendment onto the ballot for 2014.
Petro said when he was asked to support gay marriage, he “quickly and without hesitation said ‘I’m all for it.’ ” He said he will be active in the 2014 campaign and hopes more Republicans join him.
The 2004 constitutional amendment forbidding same-same marriage is a “roadblock to diversity” and leaves the public and the business community with the impression that that the state is “ intolerant and unwelcoming.”
Petro’s personal reason for his change in position is a familiar one:
Petro switched his position after his daughter, Corbin, legally married a woman in Massachusetts last year.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his support for marriage equality in March after his son came out to him.
Ohio’s process for getting an issue placed on the ballot is a daunting one. Freedom Ohio must collect 385,245 valid signatures — a number that is equal to ten percent of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial election. But Freedom Ohio won’t have the luxury of circulating petitions in larger urban areas where support would be expected to be greatest. They will also need to make sure that in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, they collected enough signatures to equal at 5% of the number of people voting in the last gubernatorial election for that county. Just getting on the ballot is half the battle, and if Freedom Ohio can accomplish it, then it bodes well for tapping into a broad geographic base of support.
Ohio’s Issue 1 of 2004, which banned same-sex marriage and all other legal recognition for same-sec couples, was approved by 62% Ohio voters. Issue 1 was placed on the ballot by the General Assembly. Equality Ohio, which was formed in the aftermath of Issue 1, has so far withheld its support for Freedom Ohio’s campaign:
Ian James, co-founder of Freedom Ohio, said his organization’s executive committee decided to move forward with Ohio campaign next year even there is no consensus among national gay, lesbian and transgender groups about going to the ballot here in 2014 or 2016.
“When we file these petitions and reach the ballot, everybody will be with us,” he said.
Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, another LGBT group, said there is “ absolutely no formal commitment at this time” to support a 2014 issue. “Equality Ohio is working with our national partners and we will be going when the time is right.”
It kind of reminds me of when Olsen and Boies announced, over the objections of several national LGBT advocacy orgs, that they were going to challenge Prop 8 in Federal Court.
A similar signature-gathering campaign is also underway in Arizona to overturn constitutional bans are already underway in Arizona, and as similar effort will launch later this month in Oregon. Nevada’s legislature has completed the first steps of a long process to reverse that state’s marriage ban in 2016.