Ohio Hub

Community Rallies Behind Ohio Lesbian Couple After Facing Discrimination From Videographer

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Bexley, Ohio couple Jenn Moffitt and Jerra Kincley found themselves shocked after local wedding business Next Door Stories, a video production business, denied them services for their upcoming wedding, according to CNN. Moffitt expressed shock and dismay at the response, especially after trying to support a local business.

Said Moffitt:

"I couldn't believe it. It is a small business, and I thought this was a tight-knit community. We wanted to support local commerce and to get that kind of response was astounding."

The couple reached out to the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce through its Facebook page five weeks ago to file a formal complaint against the business; the couple also shared their experience on Facebook to raise awareness and garner attention from local officials. Fortunately for the couple, they mostly received positive feedback on their Facebook post with photographers offering their services and kind words from locals. Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce addressed the incident on its Facebook page, declaring that the organization does not tolerate discrimination in any form.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 9.38.18 PMAlthough sponsors killed a proposed Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act last year over concerns it would open the door to discriminate against the LGBT community, Bexley, which is a suburb of Columbus, is not one of the municipalities in Ohio that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the Chamber of Commerce reviewed the situation and dispersed a letter to its members saying its board is in the process of rewriting its policy to forbid applicants and current members from discriminating based on gender, gender expression, color, race, age, religion, disability, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital or military status. Belly Mayor Ben Kessler also took to his Facebook page to address the matter saying that although the community respects, includes and embraces all individuals, it does not have authority over the Commerce’s membership as it is a private entity.

Ohio is one of 13 states left that ban same-sex marriage. However, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to make a final decision on whether the state’s same-sex marriage ban is constitutional in spring that could officially lift the state’s ban.

Ohio-Based LGBT Activist Adam Hoover Fakes His Own Kidnapping

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At the age of 17 Ohio-based activist Adam Hoover made a name for himself by being one of Ohio’s youngest agitators for LGBT equality and founding Marriage Equality Ohio. More recently Hoover has made his way back into the news under slightly less auspicious circumstances. Earlier this week Hoover took to Facebook in a panicked message claiming that he had been kidnapped and was trapped in a trunk:

“Please help me I'm in the trunk of my ford escort red 2000 gbh 2812. They said they are going to kill my family please call 911 I don't want them to hear me. Please please call. I don't want to die.”

His kidnappers, Hoover explained, warned him that they would kill him if he attempted to call for help. He posted his mother’s phone number and address, imploring anyone reading to reach out to her to help him. Hoover’s post was quickly brought to the attention of local police who soon found his car empty in nearby Miami Township. Hoover himself was found not long after, completely unharmed.

"Once we get him and determine he's okay, the investigation is able to proceed from there, including interviews, things like that. We start backtracking,” explained Green Township police Lieutenant Jim Vetter.  “After a little while we started getting indications that maybe this did not happen as he said it happened and then after the investigation was concluded, determined it was in fact, fabricated.”

Hoover left the local sheriff's office early this morning after being charged with making false alarms, a misdemeanor in the first degree. Hoover has yet to comment on why he made false claims of being kidnapped but his mother took to Facebook seeking to assuage the concerns of friends and family.

"This is Adams mom Anna. Thank you for your support and prayers,” she wrote. “I have a special request. Social media is powerful. Could every[one] please remove posts and tags and give us some time to figure this all out. Adam has helped so many please help me help him."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article misidentified a YouTuber with the same name as the Adam Hoover written about above. The header image has been updated to properly identify Hoover.

Openly Gay Montana Rep. Bryce Bennett Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Marriage From State's List Of Prohibited Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.45.53 PMD-Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula, Mont. introduced House Bill 282 in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that if passed would remove same-sex marriage from a list of prohibited marriages reports NBC MontanaIn November, District Judge Brian Morris struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Montana with the state joining 32, now 36, other states that allow or have seen rulings allowing same-sex marriages. Morris ruled that Montana's ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, thus making the ban unconstitutional. 

The U.S. Supreme Court announced in early January that it would take up the issue of gay marriage. However, members of the Montana House Judiciary Committee questioned removing the state's restriction before the high court makes its decision on the matter. The U.S. Supreme Court declared it would hear four cases that challenge states' bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee with the cases set for hearings on April 24. 

Marriage At the Supreme Court 2.0: The Cases



This article is one in a multipart series leading up to a future Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. The Court has granted review of four marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit and a decision may be handed down at the end of June. Between now and then, Towleroad will break down the cases step by step. Today's topic: The Cases.

Last time, we spoke about the importance of framing the case through the Questions Presented. I argued that despite some concern, the two questions posed in the Supreme Court's order do not indicate that the justices are looking for a way out. They are ready to rule. Before we discuss the substance on which the justices will rule, let's review the four cases that will decide the marriage equality question.


Continue reading "Marriage At the Supreme Court 2.0: The Cases" »

What Happens If We Lose the Supreme Court Gay Marriage Cases?


The Supreme Court's decision earlier today to hear the four gay marriage cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee sets the stage for the the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans to be decided once and for all. 

With the high court's previous DOMA ruling in place and its refusal to stay lower court rulings bringing marriage equality to a number of states, it can be tempting to think nationwide marriage equality will be a sure bet this year.  

For precautions sake though, Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson has spelled out what will happen should SCOTUS go the other way:

DavidsonIf the Supreme Court were to rule in the cases in which it today granted review that the U.S. Constitution does not protect same-sex couple's right to marry and does not require states to respect marriages same-sex couples lawfully have entered in other jurisdictions, a number of issues would arise.

With respect to same-sex couples who already have married as a result of court rulings, Lambda Legal strongly believes -- as a federal district court in Michigan ruled just yesterday with respect to marriages entered in that state before the 6th Circuit's adverse ruling -- that those marriages will remain valid and will need to continue to be respected by the states in which those marriages were entered. Nonetheless, the validity of those couples' marriages may be challenged and those couples may want to take additional steps (such as executing wills, durable health care powers of attorney, and securing second parent adoptions) to provide them and their families extra peace of mind and security.

With respect to whether same-sex couples would be able to marry and would have their marriages respected in other states, that would vary from state to state. States in which marriage equality was achieved by a ruling under the state's constitution, by legislative reform, or at the ballot box, would be unaffected. Unmarried same-sex couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee (the states whose marriage laws the Supreme Court today agreed to review) would be forced to seek reform through the political process. States in which a final judgment has been obtained in federal court would be required to continue to allow same-sex couples to marry and to respect out-of-state marriages entered by same-sex couples unless and until someone with standing makes a motion to reopen the judgment and that motion is granted (unless stays are properly obtained before then). In some states, there may be no one with standing interested in seeking to set aside the existing judgment. Same-sex couples in states in which a judgment is on appeal or can still be appealed whose judgments have not been stayed should be able to continue to marry and to have their out-of-state marriages honored by the state until the existing judgment is stayed or reversed.

There's no question that it would be a mess. This is one additional reason why the Supreme Court should reverse the 6th Circuit's aberrant decision and hold that same-sex couples, like all other couples, share the fundamental right to marry and that it violates federal guarantees of equality and liberty to refuse to allow them to marry or to deny recognition to the marriages they lawfully have entered in other states.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman's analysis of today's events HERE

States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees


Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  


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