Six gay and lesbian couples on
Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging Ohio's ban on gay
Plaintiff couples argue that Ohio's
2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
heterosexual couples violates the equal protection clause of the 14th
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Since December, federal judges have
struck down all or part of similar bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Michigan,
Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.
“A consensus is finally emerging: the
Constitution protects the right of consenting adults to love whoever
they want,” the lawsuit states. “It is time for Ohio to do the
Jennifer Branch of the Cincinnati-based
law firm Gerhardstein & Branch is representing the couples. The
firm's partner, Al Gerhardstein, won a recent ruling forcing Ohio to
recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay couples.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is
appealing the marriage recognition suit, told The Enquirer he
will also fight Wednesday's broader lawsuit.
“We are going to do what we have to
do,” DeWine said. “This would appear to be an incremental
strategy. They started with the death certificate, then the birth
certificate. Now we're moving to the whole thing. It's not
Multiple sclerosis hampers lead
plaintiff Michelle Gibson's ability to travel to another state to
marry. She and partner Deb Meem have been together for 20 years.
“As I get more and more disabled, I
start to think about what I want to leave in the world, what kind of
legacy I want to leave,” Gibson said. “This allows me to put
something out into the world, to sort of say, 'We're in love. We
deserve to have that love recognized, and our families recognized in
the world in the same way that any other family would be
Gary Goodman proposed marriage in 2011
to his partner Karl Rece Jr. at a local amusement park's annual Gay
Pride night, where the men had met 10 years earlier. (Video of the
proposal is embedded on this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
“We've been together for 13 years,
and we would like to be married here in Cincinnati with our friends
and family,” Goodman told The
Enquirer. “What it boils down to is that in life,
sometimes you have to step up and fight for your rights. For us,
this is the time.”
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett has
been assigned the case. Barrett, the former chairman of the Hamilton
County Republican Party, was appointed to the court by then-President
George W. Bush.