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Perspective: What do same sex marriage rulings mean in Ohio?

3:07 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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There were rallies, cheers and applause all around Ohio Wednesday. Supporters of same sex marriage applauded Supreme Court rulings that bolstered their cause and case.

There was a celebration outside Cleveland City Hall.

Reaction from the community and officials here are being more closely watched as the city prepares to host a big global event -- the Gay Olympics -- next year.

Mayor Frank Jackson said, "These decisions will help move our country in the right direction-towards ensuring that everyone has the right to marry whom they choose and receive the same benefits of legal marriage as do their neighbors, relatives and friends. These are good decisions for our community and our country."

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald said, "Today is simply an unequivocally a great day for our country...this decision is long overdue."

House Speaker John Boehner said, "While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling...a robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marrriage as the union between one man and one woman."

But what is the immediate impact on gay couples in Ohio?

For now, the answer is a mixture of it's unclear and not much.

Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 banning recognizing gay marriages.

That's meant same gender couples in the Buckeye State do not have the right to be married and their marriages, even if performed in a state that allows them, are not recognized in Ohio.

And it's still not clear whether Wednesday's court ruling would let an Ohio couple married in a state where it's legal, like New York, come back and live in Ohio and still collect federal benefits.

Ohio is one of 39  states that doesn't issue gay couples marriage licenses.

Susan Jane Becker, a Cleveland Marshall College of Law professor and former ACLU chapter President, said," It's very uncertain right now...This is going to be a big issue."

FreedomOhio, the group that's been pushing to overturn Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage, is working to get an issue before voters. The target date is November 2014.

But for now FreedomOhio's co-founder Ian James says," I'm happy . I'm excited ...(but) the impact of the ruling is incredibly limited.

Polls show Ohio voters opinions on gay marriage is slowly shifting more in favor.

But Ohio Senator Rob Portman lost supporters in the conservative wing of the Republican party when he recently endorsed gay marriage because his son is gay.

Some called that a bait and switch, despite Portman's consistent votes on conservative concerns, like abortion and gun control.

Supreme Court rulings on hot-button issues reenergize both  winning and losing sides.

It all means Ohio's gay marriage movement is picking up momentum. And the Supreme Court rulings add to that.

But an emotional red versus blue debate about whether Ohio should accept same sex marriages will heat up very soon.


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