Cincinnati, Ohio: April 30, 2014: Six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in federal court today seeking the right to marry in Ohio. Earlier this month, federal judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio to recognize marriages between same-sex couples performed in other states. His ruling however, stated a broader principle: “This Court finds no reasonable basis on which to exclude gay men, lesbians, and others who wish to enter into same-sex marriages from this culturally foundational institution.” This lawsuit seeks to end Ohio’s unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples. Lead counsel, Jennifer Branch, said:
“The couples in this case are in love and deeply committed. They want to get married. Some have been engaged for years but cannot marry here, at home, surrounded by family and friends, because Ohio forbids it. Ohio’s unequal treatment of these couples is unconstitutional and cannot continue. Nobody’s constitutional rights can be voted away.”
Plaintiffs include six same-sex couples who wish to marry. The six couples standing up to bring this case have been in committed relationships for between two and nineteen years. Traveling elsewhere to get married is not an option for most of the plaintiffs. Michelle Gibson, the lead plaintiff, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair. Other plaintiffs have elderly parents and grandparents who cannot travel. One couple has two young developmentally disabled sons. Another couple has already made a guest list with over 300 people, but only a handful of them could afford to travel to another state for the wedding. More importantly, no Ohioans should be forced to leave Ohio to get married.
Since the Supreme Court struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor, ten federal courts have struck down their states’ same-sex marriage-bans. Over that time period, not a single marriage ban has withstood judicial scrutiny. “A national consensus is emerging,” said Jennifer Branch, “the Constitution protects the right of consenting adults to love whoever they want. It is time for Ohio to do the same.”
Why Does this Matter? Marriage allows couples hundreds of legal rights under Ohio law; including the right to inheritance, favorable tax treatment, presumed parentage, right not to testify against a spouse, right to bring a wrongful death claim, and more.
Lawsuit details. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Cincinnati and it seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. Lead Counsel is Jennifer Branch of Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA in Cincinnati. Lisa Meeks of Newman & Meeks Co, LPA is co-counsel, also of Cincinnati.
Contact: Jennifer Branch: 513-621-9100513-621-9100 Ext. 13, 513-535-4123513-535-4123 (cell)
Lisa Meeks: 513-639-7000513-639-7000 Ext. 12, 513-608-8795513-608-8795 (cell)