Ohio’s Marriage Equality Push Inches Forward

Jim Burroway

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.


April 15th, 2014

Why is the AG appealing this ruling while working to get it overturned at the ballot box? What chance does this question have in Ohio in 2016? If SCOTUS overturns this ban (and all others) before that election, would they abandon the ballot question, or proceed to actually strike the language from their Constitution for clarity and symbolism?


April 15th, 2014

It appears–although it’s not clear from the article–that this group (Freedom Ohio) wants to get a measure on the ballot in 2014, despite every major group opposing it, since the polling is very close and the likely electorate demographics are not good.

Hopefully, as in Oregon in 2012, cooler heads will prevail.

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2014

The Attorney General has very narrow grounds on which to act. I wouldn’t characterize what he did exactly as “working to get it overturned”.


April 15th, 2014

Gotcha. In both cases, he might be characterized as “just doing his job.”

Paul Douglas

April 15th, 2014

Fortunately we need and have laws banning catholic churches from being forced to marry jewish couples or protecting the southern baptista preachers from being coerced to marrying mormons or muslims.


April 19th, 2014

@ Mark, that’s my understanding also, that an LGBT rights group is trying to get a measure on the ballot that would allow Ohioans to vote on recognizing same-sex marriages. Public opinion is closely divided on the issue, and given anti-equality groups’ ability to deceive voters into opposing marriage equality, I think this effort is a terrible idea.

I’m unsure if AG Mike DeWine’s move to “repeal and replace” the state’s ban is related to this push. What I get from the article is that DeWine wants to replace the ban with a constitutional amendment that would exempt only “houses of worship” from performing and recognizing same-sex marriages. If so, I see this as a useless but harmless measure that would simply restate a freedom that houses of worship already have.

Jim Burroway

April 19th, 2014

Please note:

Mike DeWine is not trying to accomplish anything. What he is doing is acting on a set of petitions that have been submitted to the Attorney General’s office for legal review before it goes into the signature collection phase. DeWine’s ability to act is rather limited to simply certifying the accuracy of the language of the petition, and then it goes to a bipartisan ballot committee that rules on whether the proposed ballot initiative would cover more than one topic. (If it does, then it has to be split into one or more measures to be voted on separately.)

This action has nothing to do with what DeWine “wants” or doesn’t want. As I said, his powers here are limited. Where his powers are far less limited is in his decision to appeal the recent Federal court decision requiring the state of Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. DeWine immediately announced he was appealing that decision.

FreedomOhio is the one moving on the ballot initiative, which Equality Ohio opposes. Equality Ohio, I believe, is calling for a ballot measure for 2016, not 2014. FreedomOhio had earlier submitted a proposed ballot measure that made it through the approval process that provided an extraordinarily wide religious exemption clause. This new language is meant to narrow the clause’s effect considerably. FreedomOhio plans on suspending its signature collection process on the old petitions and start again with the new ones once they make it through the approval cycle.

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