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Is same-sex marriage or birth control in danger after U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion?

Demonstrators gather to protest against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Demonstrators gather to protest against the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down legalized abortion across the country is raising questions about the future of other rights established with court precedent, especially for advocates for same-sex relationships and for use of contraceptives.

Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote an opinion which said the court should reconsider precedents in specific cases involving same-sex marriage and access to birth control.

Marc Spindelman, Ohio State University law professor, said the majority opinion clearly stated that nothing in it should be understood to cast doubt on precedents not concerning abortion. But Spindelman said he sees something critical in the ruling for people who are concerned about it.

“While right now the opinion is saying these questions are settled and nothing that we're doing means to raise a doubt, it's important potentially for people to be engaging politically and resolidifying, reaffirming those rights," Spindelman said in an interview for "The State of Ohio."

Spindelman also noted no other justice joined Thomas in that opinion, and the differences in the opinions show constitutional interpretation is deeply contested — even among the justices.

"These are part of the ongoing national conversation about what our fundamental charter as a people means. And it's not surprising that there are deep disagreements between and among the justices and that many people see decisions that — from one point of view — can be lined up neatly. From another point of view like they can be lined up or they don't make sense except perhaps as an expression of certain kinds of political or exercises of judicial power," Spindelman said.

The 2015 same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, was won by Jim Obergefell as he sued Ohio Department of Health Director Rick Hodges for the right to have his name listed as his husband's surviving spouse. Obergefell filed the cause because Ohio's constitution declared same-sex marriage illegal in 2004.

Obergefell is now running as a Democrat for the Ohio House. He said he’s concerned if one right that’s been relied on has been lost, other rights are at risk.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.