Ohio GLBT Activist Calls Supreme Court Ruling A Start
As the initial reaction to today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a pair of cases involving gay marriage issues subsides, activists are considering the impact at the state level.
Equality Ohio was formed in 2005, in the wake of passage of Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act, a constitutional amendment that limited the definition of marriage to one man and one woman. Director Elyzabeth Holford says the Supreme Court rulings today has no immediate impact on same sex couples in Ohio, but it will raise interesting questions about recognizing same sex marriages here.
EH: there are couples that are legally married in other states and are residing in Ohio. And so the open question is: will they be entitled to the same federal benefits that same sex couples who are legally married and living in states that recognized their marriages are entitled to? We think that they probably will. So that there's a possibility that social security benefits, filing federal income taxes as a married couple, those kind of things - as a result of this case -- will apply to everyone. But there is that question of the a recognition of marriage from out-of-state is not changed under Ohio law, but then how do the federal benefits apply to those couples? And we'll see how it works.
Ohio's same-sex marriage ban had strong support among Ohio voters, passing by 62 percent. But a recent Saperstein Poll shows a majority -- 54 percent -- of Ohioans approve repealing it. Holford says a shifting electorate in the state may mean that the time is right for a challenge to the constitutional amendment. But she says marriage is not the only right at stake.
EH: because one of the sort of sad-but-true statements about Ohio is that currently the LGBT community does not have any legal protections under the Ohio law. So, we don't have a non-discrimination statute that protects us at work, or our homes, or in public accommodations. We do not have enumeration in the anti- bullying law, and we're not protected in the hate crimes laws. And, on top of that, we also have the 'marriage inequality' amendment and the statewide DOMA. So there's really quite a bit of work to be done.
Still, Holford says the ruling today is encouraging.