by Nick Swartsell
42 days ago
Posted In: News
at 10:46 AM | Permalink
Court upholds Ohio same-sex marriage ban; McConnell says likely no tolls for Brent Spence; this 100-year-old transit map is crazy
Hey all. Here’s what’s going on around the city and beyond this morning.The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled yesterday to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee. You can read more right here about that ruling, and whether it means a Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage.• Freshly reelected Sen. Mitch McConnell has weighed in again on the Brent Spence Bridge dilemma. The bridge, which is 50 years old and functionally obsolete, though still structurally sound, will need replacing. That comes with a hefty $2 billion price tag, however, which neither Kentucky nor the federal government seems eager to pay for. One solution proposed has been a toll road over the bridge, but that idea has met with stiff opposition from a cadre of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati-area politicians, business leaders and others. McConnell said yesterday that opposition isn’t likely to fade anytime soon, but that there may be a possible solution… corporate tax breaks. He sees the potential for more highway funds that could be used for projects like the bridge through a corporate tax fix that he says could lure more companies back to the U.S.• McConnell’s fellow Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul dreamed up that highway funds proposal, and McConnell says he’s “intrigued.” There’s another news item here entirely, and one perhaps more interesting on the national stage. McConnell and Paul, who have had some cold relations in the past, have been pretty warm to each other lately, and McConnell has signaled he’d be supportive of a Paul presidential bid in 2016.• A bill to simplify Ohio’s tax system may also cost the state’s municipalities a ton of cash. The potential law would change the way businesses like construction companies are taxed, possibly cutting into municipal tax receipts. Mayor John Cranley, along with other regional political leaders, are fighting the bill, and may try to introduce a statewide ballot initiative should the bill pass in the Ohio Statehouse. • Kentucky’s Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson is on his way out of the state, heading for the White House. He’ll be a deputy assistant to President Obama, helping the prez and the federal executive branch coordinate with other governmental bodies, including state, county, city and tribal governments. Given the huge ideological divide between supporters of local and federal power, that sounds like a really, really fun job.• A small group of protesters have gathered outside the Hamilton County Courthouse today to draw attention to what they say is a serious problem: drug overdoses in area jails and prisons. Many attendees are members of anti-heroin groups who have had family members of friends die of overdoses. They’re questioning how the drug is able to make its way to people behind bars. The region is suffering from a severe heroin crisis, with overdose deaths increasing significantly in the past few years.• So, now that Republicans control the Senate, will the new top Senator on science be Texas' Ted Cruz, a noted climate-change denier? Could happen. Cruz looks to be next in line for chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space. Republican Sen. James Inhofe, another doubter when it comes to climate change science, looks likely to chair the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which is also going to be a big change-up.• Finally in our truncated Friday edition of morning news, I have a confession: There are many things in this world I’m a huge dork about, but history, maps and public transit are all near the top. That said, I just want you to take a look at this amazing, 100-year-old 3-dimensional transit ridership map from Germany. Dang man.
by Nick Swartsell
43 days ago
Ruling preserves bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee; will likely to go Supreme Court
The Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday upheld laws banning same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The 2-1 decision covers six cases in those four states brought by a total of 16 couples. Among them are Cincinnati residents Brittani Henry-Rogers and Brittni Rogers, who are fighting so both can be listed as parents on their son’s birth certificate. James Obergefell of Cincinnati is also involved, asking courts for the right to be listed on his husband Jim Arthur’s death certificate. Earlier, a lower district court found in their favor.“We just want to be treated as a family, because we are a family,” Henry-Rogers said in an August interview after the 6th Circuit hearings.Justices Deborah Cook and Jeffery Sutton ruled that the debate over same-sex marriage is best decided by voters, not by the court. Justice Martha Daughtrey dissented.“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,” Sutton wrote in the majority opinion. “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." The case is a somewhat surprising setback for same-sex marriage advocates, who had been on a winning streak in federal courts. The 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuit Courts have previously struck down laws in a number of states banning same-sex marriage. Gay marriage is now legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia. "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,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio in a statement yesterday. “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.”Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine represented the state in the case. His office said in a statement it was "pleased the court agreed with our arguments that important issues such
as these should be determined through the democratic process."The decision leaves intact Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, at least for now. That’s created a split in federal court rulings among various circuit courts, something the Supreme Court will most likely have to sort out. Some legal experts think the Supreme Court will ultimately find same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The court has refused to hear appeals to lower court decisions striking down bans, leading many to think a majority of the court supports legalization. Strangio said the ACLU will be filing for Supreme Court consideration. Attorney Al Gerhardstein, who represents the Ohio couples, has said he will be working to bring the case to the nation's highest court as well. Other advocacy organizations have also vowed to continue the fight.“Now, more than ever before, the Supreme Court of the United States must take up the issue and decide once and for all whether the Constitution allows for such blatant discrimination,” said Human Rights Coalition President Chad Griffin. “We believe that justice and equality will prevail.”
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Sarah Palin has found another way to make money off her
status as a celebrity political commentator, with her new online Sarah
Palin Channel. For $10 a month, subscribers can get news delivered by
Palin that “cuts through the media’s politically correct filter,” along
with a dose of the Palin household’s “real-life” “outdoor adventures.”
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: Courts
at 12:39 PM | Permalink
Next showdown will happen at federal appeals court in Cincinnati
A federal judge today ruled Kentucky’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. But same-sex couples in the state can’t get marriage licenses just yet. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that a 2004 amendment to Kentucky's state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage violates the guarantee of equal protection under the law found in the U.S. constitution. It's another sign that the tide may be turning in the region. The decision comes as a similar ban looks to be in serious legal trouble in Indiana, and just before an August federal court date that will decide
questions surrounding the issue in Ohio and other states. Since February last year, federal courts have upheld the right to marry for same-sex couples 19 times.The decision came in response to a challenge to Kentucky’s ban by two same-sex couples. Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James were denied a marriage license on Jan. 2013. They were charged with trespassing after refusing to leave the Jefferson County Clerk’s office after being turned down for their license. A jury eventually found them guilty, though the two were fined only $1. The two other plaintiffs in the case, Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, applied for a license in February 2013. The two have lived together for 34 years.The plaintiffs and other same-sex couples looking to marry will have to wait a little longer, though. Heyburn has delayed implementation of his decision until after Aug. 6, when a higher court, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, will hear several gay marriage cases from Kentucky, Ohio and two other states. Those cases will be heard in Cincinnati.Heyburn, who in February also ruled that the state must recognize
same-sex marriages from other states, rejected Kentucky’s reasons for
its ban. Lawyers hired by the Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear argued that traditional marriage helps ensure economic stability and a favorable birth rate in the state. The state’s Attorney General Jack Conway refused to defend the law on behalf of the state.“These arguments are not those of serious people,” Heyburn said in his decision. He said there is “no conceivable, legitimate purpose” for the ban, which keeps same-sex couples in the state from enjoying the economic, social and emotional benefits of marriage. These include tax benefits, the ability to share insurance, the ability to adopt children as a couple and other rights.The ruling continues a wave of recent decisions by federal courts upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples. But there’s still uncertainty even as the tide shifts. Most recently, on June 25, a judge struck down Indiana’s ban, allowing same-sex couples to immediately apply for marriage licenses. That decision was overturned a few days later on appeal, and couples who married in the three-day window are now waiting for a final decision to see if their marriages are valid in the state’s eyes. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.
1 Comment · Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Neighborhood activists have called for
City Councilman Christopher Smitherman’s ouster as a committee chairman
in light of comments he recently made accusing black people of not doing
enough to stop violence.
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 9, 2014
A federal judge in Cincinnati last week announced plans to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.
by Hannah McCartney
Becker worried a same-sex marriage case will turn U.S. socialist, make him cry
When my brother and I were little kids, we used to play
board games all the time, and because I was older and smarter I usually
won. Back in those days, my little bro didn’t really understand the
concept of sportsmanship and he would sometimes defiantly flip over the entire Stratego
board when I started to win a game and get really close to finding his flag, and then he’d storm off and say I
cheated (I didn’t cheat, Dylan!).
Republican Rep. John Becker is pretty upset that a
terminally ill gay man has earned the right to die in peace, and now
it’s become a very real possibility that other gay Ohioans might also
get to die (and live) in peace. And, just like my brother, he’s kind of trying to
ruin the game for everyone just because he’s losing.
In July, Judge Timothy Black heard the case of Jim
Obergefell and John Arthur, a long-term gay couple who flew to Maryland
to marry at the beginning of the month because Arthur is terminally ill,
in hospice care, and not expected to live much longer.
Obergefell and Arthur sued the state of Ohio for
discrimination in not recognizing their out-of-state gay marriage, legal
and recognized in Maryland, when other gay couples residing in states
recognizing same-sex marriages and subsequently moved to Ohio would have
their marriages treated as valid. And because Arthur is terminally ill, it's just as much for the emotional connection as it is for any kind of economic benefit. Here's what Obergefell wrote in his original complaint (grab a tissue):“Our legacy as a married couple is very important to John
and me… in two or more generations our descendants will not know who we
are. Married couples, often through research based on death records,
have recognition for their special status forever. I want my descendants
generations from now who research their history to learn that I loved
and married John and that he loved and married me. They will know that
they had gay ancestor who was proud and strong and in love.” In his ruling, Black called the case “not complicated,”
explaining that he’d allow the marriage to be legalized on Arthur’s
death certificate because it was likely a constitutional violation that
the state of Ohio treated lawful out-of-state same-sex marriages
differently than lawful out-of-state same-sex marriages.
In September, he ruled to allow the marriage of another gay
couple — David Michener and William Herbert Ives — after Ives
unexpectedly passed away in late August. Although these aren't (yet) blanket rulings, they're being interpreted as monumental victories for supporters of marriage equality.
Becker, then, decided to do the political equivalent of my
brother running to my mom and accusing me of cheating; he wrote U.S.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup and called for Black to be impeached for “malfeasance
and abuse of power,” which apparently made him really concerned about
the “federal government’s ever growing propensity to violate state
Unfortunately, though, U.S. District Court judges are
appointed for life, so since Becker’s claims against Judge Black are
totally unfounded, Black is free to continue to anger Becker and other people who don't approve of equality for gay couples. Alphonse Gerhardstein, the attorney for both couples, calls Becker's response to the rulings "bullying.""Federal judges are granted tenure for life for a reason. It's their job to enforce core principles even when the majority disagrees," he says. "Look at the Dred Scott case. I think most people would agree that's the worst case decision ever made by a judge, and even he didn't get impeached." (In case you forget, he's talking about Dred Scott v. Sandford, the landmark 1857 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ruled black people weren't citizens.) Things that actually can get a judge impeached, says Gerhardstein, are offenses like having sex with a criminal defendant or taking bribes. On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the court added licensed funeral director Robert Grunn, who is responsible for registering deaths and providing personal information to the state on what should go on a death certificate, to the list of plaintiffs. Grunn currently serves same-sex couples when he signs death certificates, says the lawsuit, including those with marriages recognized outside the state of Ohio. The lawsuit, if successful, could require all funeral directors to recognize gay clients as married on death certificates if they were legally married in a different state. Gerhardstein also says since accepting Arthur and Obergefell's case, he and his colleagues have received inquiries from between 30 to 50 other gay couples seeking legal recognitions of their out-of-state marriages. For now, he says, he and his firm are concentrating on cases specifically involving recognizing same-sex marriages on death certificates, although this litigation could (and probably will) lead to other blanket rulings on how same-sex marriages are recognized in Ohio. Another hearing with Judge Black is scheduled for Dec. 18.
by German Lopez
Posted In: News
at 10:00 AM | Permalink
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators involved in “big marriage push”
LGBT groups, civil libertarians and legislators are coming
together in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus today to announce Why
Marriage Matters Ohio, a new statewide effort to educate and persuade
Ohioans to support legalizing same-sex marriage.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry,
explained the campaign’s purpose in a statement: “Why Marriage Matters
Ohio aims to encourage neighbor-to-neighbor conversations across the
state, inviting people to talk about their own individual journeys
toward support of the freedom to marry and their values of respect for
commitment and treating others as we’d all want to be treated. Personal
stories are the best conversation starter — and conversation is the best
way to help people understand that all loving and committed couples in
Ohio, gay and non-gay alike, should be able to share in the freedom to
marry and the security and meaning marriage brings.”
The campaign involves the American Civil Liberties Union
of Ohio, Equality Ohio, Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign. The efforts have been endorsed by faith and business
community leaders, according to the groups.
“Marriage is the ultimate recognition of loving
relationships,” State Rep. Denise Driehaus, a Cincinnati Democrat, said
in a statement. “It's time for Ohio to get down to business and start
respecting all marriages.”
In Cincinnati, Driehaus is announcing the campaign with Jim Obergefell, a
Cincinnati resident who’s having his marriage recognized on his spouse’s
death certificate as a result of a court order in favor of marriage
equality. When issuing that court order, U.S. District Judge Timothy
Black cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year that deemed
the federal government’s anti-gay marriage laws unconstitutional.
Public officials and supporters are lining up in two other Ohio
cities to support the campaign: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is speaking in
Cleveland, and Elyzabeth Holford, executive director of Equality Ohio, is making the announcement in Columbus.
According to a statement issued by the campaign, the effort is partly in response to recent public polling.
The 2013 Ohio Values Survey from the Public Religion Research Institute
found Ohioans evenly divided on same-sex marriage: 47 percent supported
it and 47 opposed it. But 51 percent said they oppose amending the
state constitution to legalize marriage equality.
Still, the survey findings went against previous polls from The Washington Post and Quinnipiac University, which found a plurality of Ohioans now support allowing same-sex marriages in the state.
Beyond allowing gay couples to share in the same rights as straight couples, same-sex marriages could also boost Ohio’s economic and job growth.
A previous study from Bill LaFayette, founder of Regionomics, LLC,
found that Ohio’s gross domestic product, which measures economic
worth, would go up by $100-$126 million within three years of same-sex
marriage legalization and sustain 740 to 930 jobs within the first year
of legalization, 250 to 310 jobs within the second year and 170 to 210
jobs within the third year.
The education push comes in time for a broader effort to legalize same-sex marriage. FreedomOhio originally planned to get the issue on the ballot this year, but it delayed the initiative for the 2014 ballot.
by German Lopez
Gay marriage still recognized; Ohio could expand, save on Medicaid; death after Taser use
A federal judge on Tuesday extended the temporary restraining order recognizing a gay couple’s marriage in Ohio. As CityBeat covered here,
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS) and is expected to die soon, sued local and state
officials hoping to have their Maryland marriage acknowledged by Ohio
before Arthur’s death certificate was issued. Judge Timothy Black sided
with the couple, and he’s now extended the temporary restraining order
until December, which should provide enough time for Arthur’s expected
death and the remaining legal battle. The judge has made it clear that
the order only applies to Obergefell and Arthur.
Ohio could spend less on Medicaid if it expands eligibility for the program, according to a new analysis
from Ohio State University and the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. But
the expansion would have to come with cost controls that cap spending
growth at 3.5 percent to 4 percent, as opposed to the current rate of
7.2 percent. Still, the analysis shows that policies including an expansion can
save the state money. Under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), the
federal government is asking states to expand Medicaid to include anyone
at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In return, the
federal government would pay for the entire expansion for the first
three years then phase down its payments to 90 percent of the
expansion’s cost. Typically, the federal government pays for about 60 percent of Medicaid in Ohio.
A Sycamore Township man died yesterday after Hamilton County deputies used a Taser on him
during a brief struggle. Deputies found Gary Roell, 59, half-clothed
and smashing windows right before they took him into custody. It’s
unclear how many times the Taser was used or whether the Taser was the
direct cause of death. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says the deputies
followed protocol, given the violent actions carried out by Roell, who punched a
deputy in the face during the confrontation. Still, some groups have
been asking police departments around the country to change protocol
altogether. A 2012 report from Amnesty International
found at least 500 people died in the United States between 2001 and
2012 after being shocked with Tasers during their arrests or while in
The 2013 Ohio Health Issues Poll found that higher-income Ohio adults reported better health than those with lower incomes.
In 2013, 59 percent of Ohio adults above 138 percent of the federal
poverty level, or roughly $15,856 for a single-person household,
reported “excellent” or “very good” health, compared to only 26 percent
of those below 100 percent of the federal poverty level, or about
$11,490 for a single-person household. The United Way of Greater
Cincinnati is pointing to the results as just one other way life is more
difficult for low-income Ohioans. The group intends to get at least 70
percent of the community to report “excellent” or “very good” health by
2020. Only about 53 percent of adults in southwest Ohio currently
report such health, according to the Ohio Health Issues Poll.
Hamilton County is still offering its free recycling program for electronic equipment, including computers and televisions, until noon on Oct. 26.
The Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) today sent out a warning
to college students asking them to watch out for drugged drinks. OIU provided four safety tips: Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be
drugged, students shouldn’t leave a drink laying around or turn their
backs on it, they shouldn’t accept drinks from strangers or someone they
don’t trust, and students should watch their friends’ drinks and
act if they see anything suspicious. The Ohio Incident Based Reporting
System (OIBRS) shows there were 14 incidents of forcible rape with drug
as a weapon in 2012, but not all Ohio police departments report to
OIBRS, so the numbers are likely understated.
A developer is planning to build 20 apartments in the mostly vacant Schwartz office building on Main Street, along the streetcar’s planned route.
Developers are still working on building apartments above the Fountain Place retail complex, as announced nine months ago.
Another steakhouse is opening in downtown Cincinnati.
Delta is now offering direct flights from Cincinnati to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Jungle Jim’s sold a $1 million Mega Millions ticket.
Watch lab-grown heart tissue beat on its own here.
1 Comment · Wednesday, July 24, 2013
So I could’ve married my cousin, Marc,
when I was 13 in Tennessee and we could now be 35 years into Ohio-based
bliss but, so far, I cannot marry my partner anywhere else and legally
leave her any of my crap in Ohio? SMH. And this is what the Obergefell/Arthur family is upset about.