The Ohio Constitution
Gay marriage and civil unions were banned in Ohio by a voter-approved amendment to the constitution in 2004; it passed with 62 percent. Also, marriages that were performed elsewhere will not be recognized. Fortunately, domestic partnership registries were not affected by the bill. There were several claims in court that the registries interfered with the amendment but they were all dismissed. Domestic abuse laws were affected though, meaning charges of domestic abuse are invalid if the violence occurred between a gay couple. The only citizens of Ohio who are legitimately protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation are those who work for the state. Private companies are not required to offer domestic partnership benefits to their gay employees.
The Fight Continues
Change is in progress, hopefully. Freedom to Marry Ohio, has submitted a petition (again) with more than a thousand signatures of registered voters. The Attorney General, Mike DeWine, who wants a gay marriage amendment, rejected the first petition because of “flaws in the amendment’s language.”
If the petition is approved and clears the Ohio Ballot Board, the group will move forward in the process and gather 385,253 signatures (only of registered voters) which would then put the gay marriage amendment on the 2013 statewide ballot. If the measure is approved by a majority of voters it would automatically get rid of the 2004 amendment banning gay marriage and re-define marriage in the Ohio Constitution as “a union of two consenting adults, regardless of gender.”
Tim Hagan, Freedom to Marry Ohio chairman said “We should honor the best attributes of marriage like love, commitment, and family stability. We should be celebrating and encouraging these enduring relationships.”
Meanwhile, marriage equality activism will continue full force. A fabulous event was held in Cleveland in March on 2012 that was intended to be the “largest illegal mass wedding ever held.” It was organized by Support Gay Marriage, Equality Ohio and GetEQUAL Ohio. More than 200
couples registered and participated in the event as well as hundreds of friends and family members. The group was illegally wed by almost a dozen clergy members. Afterwards, the free service offered photographers, cupcake towers and a reception.
Ed Mullen, executive director of Equality Ohio felt that the event was ”more effective than shouting through a bullhorn, ‘You’re oppressing us.’ If you don’t put people on the defensive from the outset, they might be more willing to listen and learn.”
Clearly the marriage ceremony was not legal but there was paperwork to start applying for a marriage license in the event that it is ever legalized in the state.
But, it gets bigger and better. The Gay Games will be held in Northeast Ohio in 2014. The official website says that it follows in the:
“…traditions of San Francisco, Vancouver, Sydney, New York City, Amsterdam, Chicago and Cologne, Northeast Ohio is eager to welcome the 13,000+ artists and athletes from around the globe who are expected to participate in over 30 events at Gay Games IX.”
The event is from August 9-16 and will include concerts, themed parties and exhibitions. It has been going on for 29 years with the participation of people from six continents.
The full sports and culture programs are already available as well as planning for the event like transportation and accommodation. Signatures for the petition will also be collected during the week.
- Can gay couples marry in Ohio? No.
- Can gay couples enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships? At a state level, no, but there are some domestic partnership registries.