Currently, there are two major lawsuits pending in Ohio challenging an aspect of the state’s ban on same sex marriages.
In the first case, now headed to the Court of Appeals, a married same sex couple wants the surviving spouse listed on a death certificate. In another case, filed this week, four couples seek to list both same sex parents on their children’s birth certificates.
The theory of both cases is that Ohio does not have to allow same sex marriages, but must recognize valid same sex marriages preformed in other states – just like Ohio recognizes every other marriage performed in other states.
Here’s the thing: Attorney General DeWine does not need to continue to defend Ohio’s ban on recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states. If he is convinced that the ban is unconstitutional, then he can allow the federal courts to strike it down.
This has been happening a lot. Attorneys General in Virginia and Pennsylvania previously refused to defend their state’s bans on same-sex marriages.
Two things have happened in the past week to put increased pressure on Attorney General DeWine.
First, the Nevada Attorney General has made the same decision. Nevada is notable because Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, supported the decision. He said, “it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court.”
Second, a Federal Judge appointed by President George H. W. Bush federal judge Wednesday struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states. He said that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.
So, to recap: A Republican Governor says that the position defending the ban on recognizing same sex marriages is “no longer defensible.” And a federal judge appointed by a Republican President struck down a similar law in Kentucky.
DeWine’s intransigence in the face of building legal precedent is likely to be an issue in the upcoming campaign. David Pepper, the likely Democratic candidate, has started an online petition urging DeWine to stop defending the Ohio ban. And it’s not just Ohio. In Colorado, for example, the decision of the Republican Attorney General to continue to defend that state’s ban on same sex marriages is a campaign issue.
Here is DeWine’s contact info. Send him a message urging him not to continue to defend Ohio’s clearly unconstitutional ban on recognizing same sex marriages from other states. He must have better things to spend our legal resources on, right?