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U.S. Supreme Court decision leaves gay marriage unconstitutional in Ohio
The federal decision didn't change Ohio law, but may have opened some doors

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M.L. Schultze
A rally in Cleveland celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decision in gay marriage, but recognized its caveats.
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Gay rights activists in Ohio celebrated yesterday’s Supreme Court decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And then they talked about getting to work at the state level. As WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, both the activists and experts agree that the court decision is a start, not a finish, in Ohio.

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LGBT Center Executive Director Phyllis Harris took to the mic at a rally in Cleveland celebrating the high court decision.

“So let’s celebrate today, and then tomorrow, get back to the work around public accommodations, around equal housing around equal work. WE can still be discriminated against on the basis of our sexual orientation in the state of Ohio. So let’s celebrate right now and then let’s go to work.”

Work, lawsuits, referendums
Wilson Huhn is a constitutional law professor at the University of Akron. And he says Harris has it right. The Supreme Court decision changed a lot when it comes to federal benefits and programs for gay couples married legally in other states. But not in Ohio.

“So those marriages still will not be recognized in the state of Ohio; it doesn’t change anything with respect to people who are citizens of Ohio.

Changing that, he says, would require a voter referendum changing the Ohio Constitution.

“Polls are showing that’s a very close issue in Ohio. It may be that we are over 50 percent now in favor of same sex marriage, but you know it’s difficult to mount that kind of a ballot initiative, it takes a lot of energy and money.”

What's the same?
Or, Huhn says another course could be a different kind of federal lawsuit based on the 14th, rather than the 5th Amendment.

“The 14th Amendment has got the equal protection clause and what the Supreme Court has said on many occasions is that what the equal protection clause means is that people who are similarly situated must be treated alike.”

“And so the big issue that would be decided by the Supreme Court when a state law is challenged is this:  Are same-sex couples basically the same or basically different than opposite-sex couples?”

 Ohio’s gay marriage advocates are split over which paths to take and when. A group called Freedom to Marry wants a ballot initiative overturning Ohio’s gay marriage ban on the November 2014 ballot. Equality Ohio says advocates need more time to win over the public.

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