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Ohio


Supreme Court gay-marriage decision changes nothing in Ohio law
But the reasoning of the decision may end up changing a lot
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
In The Region:

Ohio's gay rights activists are celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court decision today (Wednesday) striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. The decision changes nothing directly when it comes to Ohio’s gay marriage ban. But WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that the tone of that decision could end up changing a lot.

LISTEN: Marc Spindelman, Ohio and the DOMA

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Marc Spindelman is a constitutional law scholar at Ohio State who’s followed the gay marriage cases closely. And he says a lot of observers figured, if the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it would do so on very narrow grounds: That marriage is a state’s business, and federal law shouldn’t intervene.

Instead, Spindelman says, the decision raises the question of equal treatment of gay people. And though it didn’t directly address state bans,

“If the equality logic of the court’s decision holds, that that same sex intimacies and relationships are just like their cross-sex counterparts, and if the state cannot attempt to demean those relationships by not giving them equal standing under law, then it looks like not only the Defense of Marriage Act, but also state bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional, that’s big, big, big, big news.”

But not news that changes anything in Ohio quickly.

“In some respects the legal status of same-sex marriage in Ohio today is the same as it was yesterday and the day before. At the same time, the decision … gave and gives proponents of  same-sex marriage a new tool by which to argue that same sex marriage is constitutionally required even at the state level.”

Still, the Supreme Court decision fell short of a full victory for gay marriage, and Spindelman expects other efforts to overturn Ohio’s ban will continue.. A group called Freedom to Marry is trying to get a referendum to overturn the ban on the November 2014 ballot, though another gay-rights group says the political strategy is not in place yet for that referendum.

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