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Supreme Court’s Rejected Gay Marriage Cases Won’t Affect Ohio For Now

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  The U.S. Supreme Court's has rejected appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage, but the fight isn’t over in Ohio.

The Supreme Court’s decision to turn away appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin means 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state where same-sex marriages will be recognized. Ohio still isn’t one of them, but Al Gerhardstein, who’s the attorney in two cases filed against Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, says he thinks change is inevitable.

“You’ve got so many people able to married across the country, and then they come to Ohio and their marriage won’t be recognized?” he said. “I sure hope that’s not the result, but obviously if it is, we will appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Gerhardstein’s cases involve birth certificates for children of same-sex couples and death certificates of people who were married in other states and want their legal same-sex partner to be listed as a surviving spouse. He and other activists are now waiting on a ruling on the Ohio cases from the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati.

Two groups, FreedomOhio and Equality Ohio, have teamed up to push an amendment that would overturn the same-sex marriage ban in 2016. Ian James with FreedomOhio says the court’s decision not to hear these appeals is a positive one for his side, but it doesn’t change their approach.

“Freedom Ohio is going to continue to follow the ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy, and this Supreme Court non-ruling really underscores why that is, because there’s no guarantee that this US Supreme Court is going to rule in favor of civil marriage equality,” he says. “They could very easily rule that it’s still a states’ rights issue.”

On the other side of the issue is the state of Ohio and the advocates who backed the marriage-defining constitutional amendment that passed in 2004. Phil Burress with Citizens for Community Values says this decision was expected, and it isn’t the same as a ruling for or against same-sex marriage.

“We’re talking about a license here, and there’s no way in the world that the Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, can tell the states what licenses they have to have and what licenses they don’t have to have,” he says. “This is a states’ rights issue, clearly, an Article X issue, and they have no business forcing same sex marriage on 50 states when the vast majority of them don’t want it.”

Burress thinks the US Supreme Court is waiting on a decision from the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati on others from appeals in courts around the country before it will move toward a ruling on whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional.