Ohio's LGBT groups disagree on timing of same-sex marriage legalization as polls show increasing support
1 Comment · Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Ohio’s leading LGBT groups continue to
disagree whether 2014 or 2016 is the right year to place same-sex
marriage legalization on the ballot.
by German Lopez
U.S. Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on same-sex marriage
The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down the federal
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a ruling that effectively requires the
federal government to recognize same-sex marriages for couples who
reside in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
The DOMA ruling also sets a powerful historical precedent by extending equal protection rights to gay and lesbian individuals.In another ruling, the Supreme Court vacated a case on California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state, and effectively sent the case back down to a lower court that deemed Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The ruling means California will likely begin giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the ruling’s effects will not go beyond California’s borders.
For gay and lesbian Ohioans, the DOMA ruling adds yet another incentive to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. If FreedomOhio’s efforts to get the issue on the ballot in 2014 are successful, Ohio’s gay couples will have their marriages recognized at all levels of government. (The group previously aimed for 2013, but it now says it needs more time.)
So far, it remains unclear whether the ruling will extend
to same-sex couples who get married in other states but live in Ohio. If so, Ohio gay couples could get married in Massachusetts, return to Ohio and be eligible for federal marriage benefits — but not state marriage benefits. Legal experts and federal officials will surely debate the
issue in the coming months to develop a clearer answer.
Still, there’s been a lot of cheering and jubilation about
the historical rulings, which are widely seen as victories for LGBT rights. Below are some of
those reactions from local and state leaders, gathered through
interviews and statements.Also, make sure to check out CityBeat's Pride Issue for more coverage on LGBT issues.
Councilman Chris Seelbach, Cincinnati’s first openly gay council member:
“It’s pretty amazing. Just as President Obama when he
announced his support for marriage equality, this feels like just as
much of a milestone, if not more because of the legal significance of
the rulings. This is proof that the tides have turned and the laws are
changing. We are realizing full equality for LGBT people across this
“The fact that they used the equal protection clause means
this case will be used across the country for every type of law that
has an impact on LGBT people. The Supreme Court just set a new precedent for
the rights of any government to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
It’s far broader than just the repeal of DOMA, which in itself is an
incredible feat. But the precedent that it’s setting for scrutiny on the
basis of sexual orientation will have an effect on laws throughout this
country for decades to come.”
Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio:
“We are elated that the Supreme Court has repealed DOMA
and in effect rejected Proposition 8. These decisions are proof that the
tide of acceptance for all couples is turning in this country, and we
have taken two more important steps toward true equality.
“This important moment, however, does not change the
reality that Ohio still has a constitutional amendment banning
same-gender marriage. Ohio voters can address the civil rights issue of
our generation by voting for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom
amendment. We are elated and our resolve has been doubled to collect
signatures. The journey continues. We will bring marriage equality to
Ohio in November, 2014.”
Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party:“I’m
deeply thankful that the Defense of Marriage Act has finally been
struck from our country’s books, and that millions across the nation and
Ohio are one step closer to equal and fair treatment under the law.
DOMA implemented discrimination into the highest law of the land, and
it’s a great day that this ugly reminder of a different time is finally
gone. “Ohio Democrats are honored to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters
in the fight to earn marriage equality for all, and continue our march
to overcome the prejudice of the past. But despite our victories across
the nation, Ohio Republicans in the Statehouse and Governor’s office
remain committed to keeping prejudice enshrined in law.” John Boehner, U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican from West Chester, Ohio:
“Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act on an
overwhelmingly bipartisan basis and President (Bill) Clinton signed it into
law. The House intervened in this case because the constitutionality of a
law should be judged by the Court, not by the president unilaterally.
While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical
that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national
debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my
hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and
German Lopez, gay staff writer at CityBeat:
“Cool.”Danny Cross, CityBeat editor: “DOMA was a real horseshit piece of legislation, and we're happy those old bastards in the Supreme Court did the right thing.”Update (1:47 p.m.): Added more reactions.
by German Lopez
Kasich's spokesperson walks back earlier comments that supported civil unions
Earlier today, Gov. John Kasich seemed to come out in support of same-sex civil unions, but Kasich’s spokesperson says the governor was using the term “civil union” loosely and the governor is still against changing the Ohio Constitution to legalize same-sex civil unions and gay marriage.“The governor’s position is unchanged,” wrote Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, in an email. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s Constitution to allow for civil unions. He’s opposed to discrimination against any Ohioan and, while he may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance, he recognizes the existing rights of Ohioans to enter into private contracts to manage their personal property and health care issues.”The clarification walked back earlier comments from Kasich, who told Scripps Media, “I’ve got friends that are gay and I’ve told them ‘Look,
(same-sex marriage) is just not something I agree with,’ and I’m not
doing it out of a sense of anger or judgment; it’s just my opinion on
this issue.” He added, “I just think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union, that's fine with me.”
The comments to Scripps Media prompted a response from Ian James,
co-founder of FreedomOhio, which is pushing an amendment that would
legalize same-sex marriage in Ohio.
“I hope Gov. Kasich understands civil unions are banned by
the Ohio Constitution as well and they are a cruel substitute for legal
marriage,” he said in a statement. “We need equal rights and family
security in Ohio for same-gender couples. That's why more and more
Republicans are making the right choice and stepping up to support
The comments from Kasich, who will run for his second term as governor in 2014 and is seen as a potential
presidential candidate in 2016, come during a period of renewed soul-searching
within the Republican Party. Most recently, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced his support of same-sex marriage two years after his son came out as gay. The change means both Ohio senators now support same-sex marriage. A recent report from the Republican
National Committee acknowledged a generational divide on the same-sex
marriage issue: “Already, there is a generational difference within the
conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the
rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway
into whether the Party is a place they want to be.”
Not all Republicans agreed with the report, which sought to establish a new blueprint for Republicans in response to 2012’s
electoral losses. In a recent blog post,
Republican Rep. Steve Chabot wrote, “To me that (the report) sounds a whole lot like
accepting things like gay marriage, and being more liberal on abortion.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a great way to alienate a lot of our
base who are still with us. Big mistake.”
Still, the report’s findings are supported by recent polling. A poll from The Washington Post
in September 2012 found about 52 percent of Ohioans support same-sex marriage, and
only 37 percent are against it, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.
Another poll from Pew Research Center found support for same-sex marriage is growing,
particularly because of the younger generations. Among U.S. adults, about 49
percent responded in support of same-sex marriage, and 44 percent were
in opposition. The Pew survey found a stark generational divide: Millenials — adults born after 1980 — had particularly
pronounced support for same-sex marriage at 70 percent, and about 49
percent of Generation X individuals, meaning those born between 1965 and
1980, were also in support. But only 38 percent of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 —
supported same-sex marriage, and only 31 percent of those born between 1928
and 1945 claimed support.
Supporting same-sex civil unions would have made Kasich a moderate by Republican standards. In the 2012
Republican presidential primaries, only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
supported civil unions, and the rest of the candidates stood
against same-sex marriage and civil unions.
In contrast, Democrats are now widely in favor of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality was embraced in the official Democratic platform in September 2012, and
President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to support gay
marriage in May 2012.
FreedomOhio’s amendment could be on the ballot as early as this year. CityBeat
previously covered the amendment’s potential benefits and challenges,
including some opposition from Equality Ohio, another LGBT group (“Evolution of Equality,” issue of Nov. 28).
Beyond giving equal rights to same-sex couples, gay
marriage could also bring economic benefits to Ohio. A study from Bill
LaFayette, founder of Regionomics LLC, found that legalizing gay
marriage would grow Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures
economic worth, by $100 million to $126 million within three years.
Statewide, that would sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year of
legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210
within the third year. In Hamilton County alone, legalization would
produce $8.2 million in growth, according to the study.
The U.S. Supreme Court will take up same-sex marriage in two high-profile cases next week. The cases will deal with California’s Proposition 8 law, which made same-sex marriage illegal in the Golden State, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed by former President Bill Clinton that made same-sex marriage illegal on a federal level.Update (4:45 p.m.): This story was updated to reflect comments from Rob Nichols, Gov. John Kasich's spokesperson.