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Ohio Judge Mistakenly Divorces Gay Couple


Despite the wave of marriage equality that has swept most of the nation in recent years, many gay couples are still unable to divorce. 

The issue is that many states have residency requirements for divorce. Same-sex couples who've traveled to other states to marry are unable to divorce because the marriages aren't recognized in their home states the same way that opposite-sex marriages would be.

Short of relocating to the state where they married for six months or a year to meet residency requirements, these couples have no legal means to dissolve their marriages — and are unable to access the remedies that come with divorce, such as community property, child custody and support, etc. Furthermore, if they try to remarry, they could be charged with bigamy.  

Recently, an Ohio lesbian couple apparently sought to get around this problem by simply listing one of the parties as the husband on a divorce petition. And it worked, at least initiallly, as the judge mistakenly granted it, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch:  

An Athens County judge approved the county’s first same-sex divorce last week, but not intentionally.

Athens County Common Pleas Judge George McCarthy (above), who approved the divorce on Nov. 25, said the next day that he was unaware that both parties were women when he signed the judgment.

“Ohio goes through great pains to make things gender-neutral (in documents),” he said. ... 

He added that same-sex divorces exist in a kind of legal gray area for Ohio judges.

Divorce-application forms in Athens County include only columns for a husband and a wife. Erin O’Leary, a woman, was listed in the husband column. Brenda Mohney, who filed for the divorce, is listed in the wife column.

Judge McCarthy says he now plans to vacate the divorce, based on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to uphold the state's marriage ban last month. Of course, same-sex couples have requested a review of that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which will consider whether to take up a Michigan case on Jan. 9, and with any luck it will be overturned next year.  

In the meantime, O'Leary and Mohney — along with countless other married same-sex couples living in non-marriage equality states who are unable to divorce — remain in legal limbo, denied the basic human dignity of getting on with their lives. 

Transgender Protections Added to Toledo Hate Crime Laws After Brutal Assault On Transgender Woman

Picture 14

Toledo City Council voted 12-0 today to approve House Bill 300; a bill that expands upon Ohio's current hate crime laws to include crimes committed against people because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or disabilities reports The Toledo Blade. The push for the new legislation comes a month after the brutal mid-day assault on notable Ohio transgender activist Candice Rose Milligan that left her with severe injuries including a broken jaw. Milligan, who still has her jaw wired shut from the attack, praised the council's decision in a public address yesterday.

Picture 15Toledo Councilman Jack Ford and three other council members are also credited for their adamant backing of the bill, which only received one hearing on the floor at the time of Milligan's attack. Milligan faced her attacker, 20-year-old Christopher Temple, in court on Nov. 20. Temple is charged with robbery to inflict, attempt to inflict, or threaten serious physical harm on another. David Crafts, the executive director of Equality Toledo, praised Toledo police's handling of the case thus far.

Said Craft:

"We know she was targeted based on her transgender status and her gender expression, and we have no question about that. We also know that Toledo Police have procedures they must follow in order to classify cases, and they are doing the best they can to make sure this is classified appropriately."

Temple, and two other men, attacked Milligan in broad daylight in Toledo last month, hurling homophobic and transphobic slurs and epithets toward her before slamming her onto the ground. Toledo police are still searching for Temple's two accomplices in the attack.

ACLU and Lambda Legal Ask Supreme Court to Review 6th Circuit Ruling Upholding Gay Marriage Bans


As expected, the ACLU and Lambda Legal have filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the Sixth Circuit's anti-equality ruling that upheld gay marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky. 

Said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal via press release:

We have reached a tipping point, and the lives of thousands of same-sex spouses and their families hang in the balance. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling shines a spotlight on our divided country, where married same-sex couples are either respected or discriminated against, depending on where they live or even where they travel. As we have learned from other historic cases like Loving v. Virginia and Lawrence v. Texas, there comes a time when the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in, and provides the answer,--on the question of marriage for same-sex couples we believe that time has come.

Read the petition below via Equality Case Files:

Man Arrested And Charged With Brutal Assault Of Transgender Toledo Woman

Transgender attack

Toledo's Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center released 33-year-old transgender Ohio resident Candice Rose Milligan Thursday after a brutal midday attack from three men left her with a broken mandible and head injuries. Milligan, a prominent transgender activist, underwent two surgeries and had her jaw wired shut; she is currently heavily medicated. Milligan was walking 13th Street and Madison Avenue when the three men accosted her on Monday afternoon.

The Toledo Blade reports:

Ms. Milligan was walking on Madison when three men approached her, made derogatory comments, and then one of the men punched Ms. Milligan in the face, mouth, and head, according to a Toledo police report. Once Ms. Milligan was on the ground, the other men kicked and punched her. One of them grabbed a cell phone from Ms. Milligan’s hand and then fled.

Police said they arrived to find Ms. Milligan with a large bump on her forehead and her mouth bleeding. Nearby witnesses were able to provide police with vague suspect descriptions.

Toledo police have arrested and charged 20-year-old Christopher Temple with robbery, attempt to inflict, or threaten serious physical harm on another; Temple has yet to divulge the names of the other two associated with the attack.

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund issued a statement on Thursday calling for statewide nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. 

Said Rev. Darlene Nipper, the deputy executive director for the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund,  in a statement:

“We are outraged with the continued anti-transgender violence taking place across the country. The recent brutal attack against a transgender community activist underscores the need for strong nondiscrimination laws to prevent violent anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Our thoughts and prayers are with Candice, her friends, and family. We hope for a quick and healthy recovery. We will continue to monitor the situation in Toledo as we call on the local authorities to use every tool in their power to bring justice to Candice and the transgender community.”
The Blade also reports that Toledo Councilman Jack Ford is calling for an immediate amendment to Ohio's hate crime laws to include gender identity and expression as a protected class after Milligan's attack. A bill that will amend the current law to include these protections, House Bill 300, is currently pending in the the state legislature, but has only received a single hearing on the floor thus far. Ford and three fellow councilmen are calling for the U.S. Justice Department to conduct an official investigation on the attack.
Since the attack, gofundme and TransOhio have been raising funds to pay for Milligan's medical bills.

Same-Sex Couples to Appeal Sixth Circuit Ruling Directly to U.S. Supreme Court


The plaintiffs in the Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee marriage cases will seek immediate Supreme Court review of yesterday's Sixth Circuit ruling upholding the states' bans on same-sex marriage. 

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Abby Rubenfeld, the lead counsel for the Tennessee plaintiffs, said lawyers from all four state cases were in agreement about sending the issue to the Supreme Court.

“We just had a conference call with the attorneys from all four Sixth Circuit states on the marriage cases. We were all in agreement to apply for certiorari at the supreme court, and not to first seek en banc review in the Sixth Circuit,” she explained. “Given the significance of the issue, the reality that it will end up in the Supreme Court ultimately, and the harms that all of our clients are suffering each day that their marriages are not recognized, we want to get to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.”

“We hope to file within two weeks, and hopefully sooner, so that we can still be on the docket for this term—which means resolution by june 30, 2015,” she added.

Televangelist Rocked By Accusations He Abused Male Church Members, Forced Vasectomies - VIDEO


A series of reports in The Akron Beacon Journal has detailed decades of abuse and cover-ups by Ohio televangelist Ernest Angley.

Angley, pastor at Grace Cathedral Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, has been accused by former church members of performing genital "examinations," encouraging abortions and vasectomies, and arranging a marriage between a congregant and a convicted child molester.

Reporter Bob Dyer said that he had heard rumors about Angley for a long time but it wasn't until July when he received a recording of a church service in which Angley admits to examining the private parts of males that he began looking into the reports.

GraceDuring the July 13th service, addressing accusations that he is gay and has abused both his associates and members of the congregation, Angley said “I’m not a homosexual. God wouldn’t use a homosexual like he uses me. He calls me his prophet, and indeed I am. ...

On the issue of urging men in his congregation to submit to vasectomies, Angley said:

“I’ve helped so many of the boys down through the years. They had their misgivings. Sure, I’d have them uncover themselves, but I did not handle them at all. And I would tell them how that would work. And they’d have to watch it. I’d have some of them come back to me that I felt needed to. And I would tell them, I would look at them, their privates — I, so I could tell how they were swelling.”

Kenny Montgomery, a former usher at the church, who like many others interviewed by Dyer who compared Angley with cult leader Jim Jones, said “that place is a textbook cult. I’m really scared for my friends and family that still go there.”

Becky Roadman, who quit the church in 2013, said that members are not allowed to have children, an accusation backed up by another former church member Angelia Oborne:

“My husband and I can’t have children because my husband had a vasectomy. We were looking at getting it reversed, but I’m 35 years old and ... may not be able to have children anymore. And that breaks my heart, because that choice was made for me, because of the brainwashing, the mind control. We weren’t allowed to have children. If you turned up pregnant, it’s almost as if you had sinned.”

Oborne added that many church members have been forced into having abortions.

Former member Greg Mulkey said that Angley doesn’t want his congregation to have children “because it would take their time and money away from [the church]. He really forced people into abortions through scare tactics, as if he were a medical doctor. It turns my stomach.”

Mulkey added that male members were often forced to have vasectomies.

Watch Bob Dyer discuss the allegations against Angley, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: autoplay)

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