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Second Gay Couple Files Suit to Have Ohio Recognize Their Marriage

A second gay couple has joined a federal lawsuit demanding that the state of Ohio acknowledge their marriage status on a gay spouse's death certificate, the Cincinatti Enquirer reports:

OhioDavid Michener and William Herbert Ives of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, Ohio, were married July 22 in Delaware, a month before Ives died unexpectedly Aug. 27 of natural causes. A death certificate is required for cremation, and Michener is asking to be listed as Ives' surviving spouse on the certificate.

Michener is asking the court to include their suit in a lawsuit filed in federal court in July by another couple, John Arthur and James Obergefell, who married July 11 in Maryland. The June U.S. Supreme Court decision granting federal recognition to same-sex marriages prompted them to marry.

Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and their lawsuit asks that they be listed as spouses on Arthur's death certificate, as Arthur's condition continues to deteriorate. Federal Judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order in July requiring the state to list them as spouses in the event of Arthur's death. The order has been extended through the end of 2013.

Towleroad previously reported on Arthur and Obergefell's challenge to the state of Ohio, as well as the touching video about their marriage, which took place in Maryland on the airport tarmac.

UPDATE: A judge has ordered the state to recognize Michener and Ives's marriage, the Washington Blade reports.

In a three-page restraining order, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black on Tuesday ordered the State of Ohio recognize the marriage of a Cincinnati couple that married in Delaware in July, but where one person in the relationship unexpectedly died of natural causes last month.

Black ruled that David Michener, the surviving spouse in the relationship, is eligible for the restraining order because of immediate need for action as well as the likely success of his claim that the state constitutional amendment in Ohio barring recognition of his marriage violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments under the U.S. Constitution.

“On this record, there is insufficient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify this singling out of same sex married couples given the severe and irreparable harm it imposes on David Michener,” Black writes.

Gay Man Beaten by Mob in Hate Crime Outside Cleveland Bar: VIDEO


Jared Fox was attacked on Saturday night outside the Cocktails Lounge in the area of West 93rd Street and Detroit Avenue by a group of people he says taunted him with homophobic slurs and demanded money, ABC5 reports:

Cleveland police said they received four calls about a group of males disturbing the area and assaulting a customer at Cocktails Lounge.

“Last night I was the victim of a hate crime. I was walking into a bar on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. I was walking from my parked car. I got out and I saw a group of youth on the side of the street,”  Jared Fox said in a YouTube video.

“Instincts and my experience with youth was that kids in a large group just aren’t up any good.”

“They started to just charge and they surrounded me,” Fox said. He said they asked for him money and used anti-gay slurs. “They thought I was an easy target.”

"They just started beating me," Fox said. "They punched my glasses into my face and sliced it right there" he said while pointing to the cut on his nose. He said he also suffered a ruptured eardrum. "They stomped on me, my back, my ribs while I was on the ground."

Fox says one of them asked him, "Do you want to die?" He says he begged someone driving by in a car for help but the car drove away. He also pounded on the doors of nearby houses.

Watch ABC5's report and Fox's YouTube video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Man Beaten by Mob in Hate Crime Outside Cleveland Bar: VIDEO" »

Ohio Amusement Park Cancels Wedding Contest To Avoid Including Gay Couples

SRPCPGAYWEDDING2With its 16 different roller coasters, Cedar Point of Sandusky, Ohio, is a Mecca for thrill ride enthusiasts throughout North America and the world. Unfortunately, the park is receiving a bit of bad press as of late, after canceling a contest in which it would allow 13 couples to get married on park grounds to mark the beginning of their HalloWeekends festival so they could avoid including gay couples in it.

Ohio is one of the many states in the country that does not currently allow marriage equality. That didn't deter Scott Kenimond and Eric Morrison of Akron when they saw the contest online. According to the Sandusky Register, the two are roller coaster enthusiasts, which was one of the things they bonded over when they first met. “It was one of the things that made me message him. First I thought, ‘He looks cute,’” Morrison said. "My username was WickedTwister. He knew right away I was a fan." The two have already been engaged for months. Thus, when they found Cedar Point's contest online, it seemed a bit like providence. “[Scott] was elated. He was beside himself so happy,” said Morrison. Then they read the fine print: "Due to marriage laws in Ohio, weddings are limited to male-female couples only."

SRPCPGAYWEDDINGThis obviously didn't sit well with Kenimond and Morrison, who then took to Twitter and Reddit to gather support. For one thing, the contest ad offered it as a chance for already-married couples to renew their vows. “It doesn’t matter if it’s legal or not,” Morrison said. “You should be able to have a commitment ceremony. For God’s sakes, you’re getting married by a zombie.”

Nevertheless, officials at Cedar Point decided to cancel the contest shortly thereafter, issuing a statement that read: 

“When the promotion logistics started to take on political undertones, as indicated by several guests who gave us feedback, it was decided that now is not the best time for this event... Cedar Point does not take any official stance on political issues.” 

The couple was already considering a commitment ceremony in Cedar Point anyway, to which the park announced in its statement that “we encourage guests to contact us if they’re interested in planning such an event.” Nevertheless, the couple was still looking forward to have the chance to have expenses and organization taken care of by the park. That said, Morrison, who works in marketing, understands the park's decision. 

“For them, this was not a political commotion. It was simply to drum up interest for HalloWeekends and they had a stance where they chose not to choose a stance...I’m disappointed they would choose to go that way rather than stand behind their LGBT community. Ultimately, they’re playing it safe. But it’s a cowardly choice.”

Same-Sex Marriage Case Sparks Debate In Ohio AG Race

SPepperame-sex marriage has become a lightning rod in Ohio's race for Attorney General following Monday's ruling by Federal Judge Timothy Black that a Cincinnati couple, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, must be recognized as legally married in the state of Ohio even though they were married in Maryland. reports that once the decision was handed down, incumbent Mike DeWine made clear that he would appeal Judge Black's ruling. Challenger David Pepper, however, found that unacceptable. In a press release titled, "In Cases of Unconstitutional Treatment, AG Has Duty "To Speak Out"", Pepper attacked DeWine for supporting the state's gay marriage ban and for vowing to fight Judge Black's ruling as the couple in question spend what is most likely to be their last few weeks together, as Mr. Arthur's death is "imminent" as a result of his advanced ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. Pepper stated,

Dewine“Above all, an Attorney General takes an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. This case is a truly sad example of Constitutional rights being violated, and the deep and personal harms that result from constitutionally unequal treatment. I respectfully call upon Attorney General DeWine to recognize the clear Constitutional wrongs taking place here. Allow this couple to spend their final weeks together in dignity.”

Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO


John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, the gay Ohio couple who last Friday filed a federal suit challenging Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage, must be legally recognized as a married couple in the state of Ohio, according to federal judge Timothy Black. Arthur and Obergefell married on a tarmac in Baltimore after they chartered a plane to Maryland especially equipped with medical staff to attend to Arthur who is terminally ill and suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Arthur, who as Judge Black put it, "is certain to die soon" wanted to be recognized as married in his home state when he dies. It appears he will get his wish. BuzzFeed reports:

"The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, unless the court extends the order at a later date.

“By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[s] the United States Constitution.”

In his decision, Black cited not only the recent landmark case, United States v. Windsor that effectively struck down DOMA, but also the 1996 Romer v. Evans case, both cases in which Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the majority opinion. Judge Black wrote,

“Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution...The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

The suit, filed against Governor John Kasich and defended by Attorney General Mike DeWine, was nonetheless not defended by the vital statistics registrar for the city of Cincinnati, Dr. Camille Jones. In a filing presented to the court, Dr. Jones stated,

Plane“The City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,but the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned.”

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Governor Kasich, in response to the ruling told BuzzFeed: “We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Many have already begun to speculate on the implications of this ruling for Ohio and the nation at large.

Watch a video of a local news report from WKEF and WRGT, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO" »

Gay Couple Challenges Ohio's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage In Federal Suit


Last week, we reported on a gay Ohio couple, John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, who flew to Maryland to tie the knot. Unlike other couples flocking to get wed following the Supreme Court's historic overturning of section 3 of DOMA, John and Jim faced a more difficult journey as Arthur suffers from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Consequently, conventional travel was out of the question. But thanks to donations from family members and others, the couple was able to charter a plane that cost $12,700 to fly to Maryland where they wed on the Tarmac.  The couple has now filed a federal suit against the state of Ohio challenging that state's ban on same-sex marriage, ABC 5 reports:

"The suit, filed by the couple, states the way the law treats marriages between opposite-sex couples is unfairly different from the way it treats marriages between same-sex couples.

'It's blatant discrimination,' said the couple's attorney Al Gerhardstein. 'It's a denial of equal protection.' The suit points to an example of a marriage between first cousins. In Ohio, it is illegal. But if first cousins go to another state and marry where it is legal, Ohio will recognize their out of state marriage as valid. 'Equal protection demands that opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples should be treated the same,' Gerhardstein said in a release. 'John and James were validly married in Maryland. If they were an opposite sex couple, Ohio would recognize their marriage. Being a same-sex couple is no longer a good enough reason to deny them equal rights.'"

Jim stressed the role that John's disease played in deciding to file the suit:

"We want nothing more than for our marriage to count in the place we call home," Obergefell said in a release. "When (John Arthur) dies, his death certificate should reflect our marriage just like the records of all the other married couples in Ohio."

The case, once heard, will come before United States District Court Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati, the couple's hometown.


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