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
LGBT hearings continue, local unemployment falls, tax plan may remain in state budget
The U.S. Supreme Court is heading into its second day of hearings on same-sex marriage
today. Yesterday, the Supreme Court held hearings for Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in California that overturned the legalization of gay marriage. Today, the court will hold hearings on the Defense of
Marriage Act, the law that banned same-sex marriage at a federal level. The Washington Post posted more in-depth information about the legal arguments here.
Cincinnati’s seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate fell sharply
in February, from 8.6 percent in January to 7.5 percent. Unemployment
in Hamilton County also fell from from 7.9 percent in January to 7.1
percent in February, and Greater Cincinnati’s rate fell from 8 percent
to 7.4 percent. The dropping unemployment rates were matched with
more people employed and less people unemployed.
Ohio’s budget director says he thinks the state’s across-the-board income tax cuts will remain
in the 2014-2015 budget, even as lawmakers take out other proposals put
forward by Gov. John Kasich. The plan originally suggested by Kasich
was widely criticized for disproportionately benefiting the wealthy,
which CityBeat covered in further detail here.
Cincinnati is moving toward semi-automated trash collection, which the city has outlined in full detail here.
This spring and summer, approximately 90,000 households will receive a
65-gallon trash cart that will be assigned to each address. As part of
the broader policy, the lids on the trash carts will have to be fully
closed to be collected, and residents will have to call the city to
request a pickup for bulky items. The city says semi-automation will
save money, improve worker safety, free employees for other services,
increase recycling and help keep neighborhoods cleaner and pests out.
In response to USquare development workers not being paid prevailing wage, council members Laure Quinlivan, Cecil
Thomas and Wendell Young are planning to pass a legislation that will
require any construction project using at least 30 percent in city funds
to pay all its workers prevailing wage. “These men were being pressured
to sign documents stating they were paid prevailing wage when it was
closer to minimum wage,” Quinlivan said in a statement. “These workers
lost their jobs when they blew the whistle, and on their behalf, we
intend to end worker exploitation on projects with significant city
UC Health, the University of Cincinnati’s medical wing, says it wants to run ambulances in northern Kentucky.
It recently submitted applications for permission through Kentucky’s
Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which requires providers prove the need for some facilities and services before they can be
Mercy Health will open a downtown clinic on April 1.
The prosecutor has dismissed charges against Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog who predicted an early spring.
Here is a shark with two heads.
by German Lopez
Seelbach tired of streetcar delays, Pentagon to lift combat ban for women, JobsOhio in court
Council Member Chris Seelbach says he’s getting impatient
with streetcar delays. During a series of complaints aired on Twitter, Seelbach wrote the deadline for streetcar operation should be the Major
League Baseball All-Star Game in 2015. This week’s CityBeat cover story explains some of the delays and how the streetcar relates to the 2013 mayor’s race.
The Pentagon is planning to lift the ban
on women in combat situations. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said
the decision came after a recommendation from his Joint Chiefs of
Staff. Between the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and this decision,
President Barack Obama’s administration has been one of the most
inclusive when it comes to the military.
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear
a case questioning the constitutionality of JobsOhio. Policy group ProgressOhio says it might be illegal to use state liquor profits to
fund JobsOhio, a private nonprofit organization Gov. John Kasich set up
to drive economic growth in the state.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game could bring
$60-$80 million to Cincinnati, according to Julie Heath,
director of the University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center. It was
recently announced Cincinnati will host the game in 2015.
Gov. Kasich said he won’t oust
State Board of Education President Debe Terhar after she made a
Facebook post comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler. Kasich is happy she
admitted it was a mistake, and he said he will leave it at that.
Democrats called for her ousting Tuesday.
American Military Partner Association, a national
organization that supports LGBT veterans, endorsed FreedomOhio’s
same-sex marriage amendment. If voters approve the amendment this
November, gay marriage will be legalized in Ohio. CityBeat wrote more about FreedomOhio’s ballot initiative here.
Cincinnati Public Schools is piloting an after-school program focusing on the arts. The high-energy sessions are apparently proving to be a hit among students so far.
U.S. Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, says President Barack Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party. I’m not seeing the problem here.
Moody’s doesn’t have confidence in U.S. nonprofit hospitals.
New science makes it possible to detect brain damage in football players that previously couldn’t be seen until a victim was dead. CityBeat covered how head trauma relates to former Bengals players' workers' comp claims here.
Popular Science explains how to make the perfect snowball.
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Ohio is a swing state, but there is very
little in our state government that reflects that right now. Republicans
dominate the General Assembly. Republicans dominate the governorship
and other executive positions. The Ohio Supreme Court is no different.
It is currently dominated by Republican justices in a striking 6-1
by German Lopez
Voting on weekend and Monday before Election Day must include all Ohioans
The U.S. Supreme Court says it will not take up Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's early voting appeal. With the decision, Ohio must allow all voters to vote on the weekend and Monday before Election Day — a right previously reserved for military personnel and their families.The news comes just a week after Husted promised to appeal a ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said if early voting will take place on the three days before Election Day, boards of elections must make sure all Ohioans can use the opportunity.However, some ambiguity is left in the process as different county boards of elections decide on voting hours. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said it's up to Husted and individual county boards when and even if Ohioans will vote on the three days. If there is a tie vote in the county boards, Husted will be the tie breaker.When he announced his intention to appeal the appeals court ruling, Husted said in a statement that he will ensure Ohio has uniform early voting rules and hours no matter the outcome of the appeal: “While I will be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Ohio law
through the appeals process, the last thing I want to see is a
non-uniform system where voters will be treated differently in all 88
counties. Since some boards of elections have already started to take action on
hours of operation for the three days before Election Day, I am going
to take time to consult with all 88 counties before crafting a
directive to set uniform hours should the state not be successful upon
appeal.”UPDATE (1:30 P.M.): Husted sent out a directive to county boards of elections enforcing uniform voting hours for the three days before Election Day. On Saturday, booths will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Monday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court today said “hell
nah” to many parts of an Arizona law designed to fight illegal
immigration by racially profiling people. It wasn’t a total victory for
those who don’t love America and think a nation built by immigrants will
be ruined by them, as the court let a provision stand that allows
police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other
by Danny Cross
City Council is expected to vote this morning to divert
the $4 million for the City Hall atrium project to jumpstart the Music
Hall renovation, which has brought the city and arts supporters
interested in owning and operating the historic venue closer to a
compromise. Council could vote on the renegotiated deal later Wednesday,
though details of the lease agreement have yet to be released.
Council is also expected to approve a property tax
increase of $10 per $100,000 in valuation to fund capital projects such
as a new West Side police station and additional road paving.
Today’s Hamilton County Transportation Improvement
District meeting will include a presentation about the Brent Spence
Bridge that will probably include polls.
Gov. John Kasich today will sign a human trafficking bill
that makes the crime a first-degree felony rather than second-degree and
includes funding to help victims.
The ACLU will represent the Ku Klux Klan in a legal fight involving Georgia’s highway cleanup program and a pending First Amendment lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will rule on President Obama’s health care law.
Obama and Biden are still jamming Romney up on his outsourcing history.
A Walgreens store and other pharmacies in Washington, D.C. are offering free HIV
tests to make diagnosing the disease more convenient and to increase
College football has approved a four-team playoff to
determine its national championship rather than the computer-human
two-team plan that has faced scrutiny over the years. The new format
will start in the 2014-15 season.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Courts
at 11:14 AM | Permalink
Judge orders university to change policy
The University of Cincinnati lost a court battle yesterday when a federal judge ruled that the public university's decision to restrict all "demonstrations, picketing, and rallies" to a Free Speech Area was a violation of the First Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled that containing the area in which students and outsiders who obtain the proper permission to demonstrate acted as an unconstitutional limitation. In February, the UC Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) filed a lawsuit against the university after they were denied the right to circulate freely across UC's campus to gather signatures for a petition to place the Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment on the Nov. 2012 ballot. The students were restricted to gathering signatures only in the university-designated Free Speech Area within the McMicken Commons Northwest Corner, which is less than one tenth the size of a football field. Officials threatened to arrest students who attempted to gather signatures outside of that zone. The space restriction often rendered the the students' efforts ineffective; the Free Speech Area covers, relatively, a miniscule part of UC's campus. YAL plaintiffs argued that UC's free speech policy was unfairly vague and unconstitutional. The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a non-profit, non-partisan legal center, assisted YAL with the lawsuit. According to a press release from the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, Judge Black's ruling prevents UC from enacting or upholding a free speech policy from: • “Requiring
prior notification for the solicitation by students of signatures for
all solicitation by students of signatures for petitions in any designated
public forum, including the Free Speech Area, the outdoor spaces described in
the MainStreet Event Guide, and campus sidewalks;”
that all student ‘demonstrations, picketing, or rallies’ occur only in the Free
5 to 15 days prior notification for any and all student ‘demonstrations,
picketing, or rallies’ without differentiations;”
or enforcing any policy restricting student speech in any designated public
forum, including the Free Speech Area, the outdoors spaces described in the
MainStreet Event Guide, and campus sidewalks, that is not individually and
narrowly tailored to serve a compelling university interest. In March, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education named UC's speech policies the worst in the nation specifically because of the restrictive free speech zone.
by Hannah McCartney
Lawyer calls 1996 law "across-the-board disrespect"
The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled today that the 16-year Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional for banning federal benefits for married same-sex couples. The Court's three judges ruled unanimously that DOMA is discriminatory because it denies equal rights to same-sex married couples. The ruling applies only to the regions included in the circuit: Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico. Despite the unanimous decision, no changes will take effect until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the case, which is expected to be appealed. The ruling still marks a significant victory for the gay rights community, as it signifies a unified federal effort to institute provisions that support marriage equality across genders and sexualities. The decision also comes just days after the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, which challenged Attorney General Mike DeWine's approval of the legality of the language in a proposed state ballot which, if passed, would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Ohio. DOMA, passed in 1996, doesn't specifically invalidate same-sex marriages in states that rule to legalize them, but it trivializes the meaning of marriage for such couples by specifically prohibiting married gay couples from possessing same benefits as married homosexual couples, including the ability to:
File taxes jointly
Take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse
Receive spousal, mother’s and father’s, or surviving spouse benefits under Social Security
Receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employeesThe Court did not rule on the second provision of DOMA, which verbalizes that states that don't approve of same-sex marriage can't be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it's
legal, nor did the court decide whether or the act of gay marriage is actually constitutional.Since its passage, several states have taken their own stances on gay marriage, while eight states — beginning with Massachusetts in 2004 — have legalized same-sex marriage. In Feb. 2011, the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA's constitutionality after several large-scale challenges to the act — a decision quickly combated by Ohio House Speaker John Boehner with the formation of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, an assemblage of standing House representatives, to defend DOMA. In arguments before the Circuit Court in April, Mary Bonauto, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), called DOMA a result of Congress' "moral disapproval." "It is simply that, frankly, Congress just didn't want to deal with same-sex couples ... this is across-the-board disrespect," she stated in the hearings.Earlier this month, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to openly approve same-sex marriage. Ohio belongs in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which also encompasses Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.
by Hannah McCartney
Judge rejects Columbus restaurant's argument that ban is "oppressive"
Since 2006, the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act has banned indoor smoking at public establishments and places of employment, making Ohio the first Midwestern state to enact a state-wide ban. Despite controversy and contestment, that ban will continue to be enforced statewide. The owner of Zeno's Victorian Village in Columbus who attempted to combat the law was shut down by a unanimous 7-0 vote in the Ohio Supreme Court today, which ruled that the state's six-year smoking ban is constitutional. Ohio's ban affects some 280,000 establishments across the state of Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). According to the Supreme Court of Ohio's case summary, Zeno's was cited 10 times for violations of the ban from July 2007 and September 2009, receiving multiple fines, none of which were paid. In protest of the violations, the director of the ODH filed a complaint against Bartec Inc., the corporate entity that owns Zeno's, requesting the bar to pay all outstanding fines. Bartec and legal representative 1851 Center for
Constitutional Law, a nonprofit legal center, asserted that the smoking ban was unconstitutional, a violation of the state's policing powers and that prohibiting smoking in an adults-only liquor-licensed establishment such as Zeno’s is "unduly oppressive," according to the case summary. The ban and its enforcement, argued Bartec, constitutes an unlawful taking of property, meaning an improper confiscation of the owner’s control of the indoor air."The goal of this legislation is to protect the health of the workers
and other citizens of Ohio. ... It does so by regulating proprietors
of public places and places of employment in a minimally invasive way.
We therefore hold that the Smoke Free Act does not constitute a
taking,” wrote Justice Lanzinger in her opinion. In her written opinion, Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger also cited 2002 Supreme Court decision, D.A.B.E., Inc. v. Toledo-Lucas Cty. Bd. of Health:"We have previously stated that the General Assembly has the authority
to enact a public-smoking ban. ... Although the Smoke Free Act was
ultimately passed pursuant to a ballot initiative, the voters of Ohio
also have a legitimate purpose in protecting the general welfare and
health of Ohio citizens and workforce from the dangers of secondhand
smoke in enclosed public places. By requiring that proprietors of
public places and places of employment take reasonable steps to prevent
smoking on their premises by posting ‘no smoking’ signs, removing
ashtrays, and requesting patrons to stop smoking, the act is rationally
related to its stated objective.”According to the Columbus Dispatch, the bar owes the state approximately $33,00 in violation fines, and the state has threatened to seize and foreclose the bar if the fines aren't paid. See how Ohio's public smoking laws compare to those in other states across the U.S. here.