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Plaintiff, Defendant In Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Case Agree On Supreme Court Pick

Jo Ingle
/
Statehouse News Bureau

The two men whose names are on the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage are united in one cause; urging the Senate to defeat the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the nation’s highest court. 

Rick Hodges was Ohio’s Health Director in 2012 when Jim Obergefell of Cincinnati sued the state because it wouldn’t recognize his marriage to his critically ill husband, which was performed in another state. The case eventually made its way to the U.S Supreme Court in 2015.

Hodges said he put his office on notice to be able to process gay marriages quickly if the high court gave its blessing, which it did in a 5-4 ruling. Hodges said the court made what he calls a “wonderful decision”, but he’s afraid it won’t stand if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. 

“I fear that’s what’s at stake with this fateful nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that all Americans are treated with fair dignity and respect regardless of who they are or who they love and that all American families benefit equally and fully from government services they pay for through their taxes," Hodges says.

Obergefell says he fears Coney Barrett would side with the conservatives on the court who would try to throw the same-sex marriage issue back to individual states to decide. 

“This is what Justices Thomas and Alito, as well as Judge Amy Coney Barrett, based on her remarks, believe we should be forced to do – plead with others to treat us as equals instead of relying on the constitution to guarantee it. This is not only demeaning. It is detrimental to our relationships, our families and our membership in we the people," Obergefell says.

It's an extraordinary agreement between two sides that were opposed in that landmark decision.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and other Democratic senators, are urging the defeat of Coney Barrett’s confirmation. Brown says she is an activist judge who has no place on the court, particularly in the midst of a hotly contested election when Americans are deciding the direction in which they want their country’s leadership to go. 

"The president fully expects her to be on the court by Election Day and fully expects her to be sitting in judgement if there’s a challenge to the election. That’s such a terrible conflict of interest and it runs totally counter to anything we’ve done in this country," Brown says.

But Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Rob Portman, disagrees - though he has said he personally supports same sex marriage. 

“She’s a very thoughtful person. She has said many, many times now, ‘I’m going to follow the Ginsburg rule and I’m not going to say how I will rule on any specific case.’ But she’s also said the job of a judge is not to put any of her personal beliefs forward. She’s supposed to set those aside in fact and apply the law as written. And she’s also talked about her respect for precedent," Portman says.

The Republican majority in the Senate appears poised to confirm Coney Barrett as soon as the end of next week. 

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.