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Gay Couple Files Federal Suit in Ohio After Being Denied Coverage Under Obamacare

Earlier this week a gay couple in Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. government and state of Ohio after being denied coverage under Obamacare, Reuters reports:

OhioThe plaintiffs, Alfred Cowger and Anthony Wesley of Gates Mills, Ohio, have been together since 1986 and were married in New York state in 2012, six years after adopting a daughter, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio...

...After initially being unable to enroll in Obamacare because of glitches involving the troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov website, they said in the suit that they were assured by Anthem they could remain under its policy after December 2013, although premiums would increase by about 20 percent.

But in November, according to the suit, Cowger said he received a letter from Anthem stating their policy "was to be terminated because it was not in compliance with the ACA."

A new family policy with Anthem would cost about twice their existing one, or about half the family's joint income, and not be eligible for tax credits under Obamacare.

Full story here.


Kent State Wrestler Sam Wheeler Suspended Indefinitely for 'Fag' Tweet About Michael Sam

Sam_wheeler

Kent State wrestler Sam Wheeler has been suspended indefinitely for a series of tweets containing anti-gay slurs that began as a commentary about gay Missouri football player Michael Sam, CBS Cleveland reports:

“I can’t even watch Sports Center today cause all they are talking about is Marcus Smart or that fag from Mizzou…” Wheeler tweeted.

In addition to the initial tweet, Wheeler responded to 2 other users with a homophobic slur before tweeting, “O geez I got all these fag boys mad at me now.”

...The tweets were deleted and Wheeler’s twitter account is no longer active but the gay-oriented web site OutrageDC.com captured and published a screen grab the tweets and called for users to contact the university, the school’s athletic director, Wheeler’s wrestling coach as well as the Mid-American Conference in protest.

Kent State Director of Athletics released the following statement:

“We are aware of the insensitive tweets by one of our student athletes.  On behalf of Kent State University, we consider these comments to be ignorant and not indicative of the beliefs held by our university community as a whole.  This is an educational opportunity for all of our student-athletes.”

Kent State Head Wrestling Coach Jim Andrassy added:

“As an alum of Kent State University and as Sam’s head coach, I was surprised and offended by what I read on Twitter. I have spoken to Sam personally, and while he is remorseful, he will be suspended indefinitely while we determine the best course of action moving forward.”

Wheeler


Four Ohio Couples File Suit Against State To Have Same-Sex Marriages Recognized On Birth Certificates

After Judge Timothy Black's ruling in December, which ordered Ohio officials to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates despite the state's 2004 ban on such unions, four couples have been inspired to fight for their, and their children's, rights.

OhioThe couples, all of whom were legally married in other states but have ties to Ohio through their children, or soon-to-be-born children, filed a lawsuit against the state to have their marriages recognized on birth certificates. They stated that being forced to list only one parent is a violation of their rights according to the U.S. Constitution. 

The AP reports:

"We want to be afforded the same benefits and rights as every other citizen of the United States," said one of the plaintiffs, Joe Vitale, 45, who lives in Manhattan with his husband and their adopted 10-month-old son, who was born in Ohio. The pair married in 2011 shortly after New York legalized gay marriage.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Republican Gov. John Kasich, said his office doesn't comment on pending litigation, "except to say that the governor believes marriage is between a man and a woman."

A spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, whose office will fight the lawsuit, declined to comment.

The other plaintiffs in Monday's lawsuit are three lesbian couples living in the Cincinnati area who married in states that have legalized gay marriage. One woman in each of those marriages is pregnant through artificial insemination, and their babies all are due to be born this summer in Cincinnati hospitals.

The couples fear that certain parental rights could be denied them later on should both names not be listed on the birth certificates. They are being represented by Al Gerhardstein, the attorney who sought the December court order regarding death certificates, which is now being appealed by the state. 

"At both ends of our lifespans, a marriage is a marriage. A family is a family," said the couples' lawyer, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein. "A family is a loving, nurturing group of people and the identification document when the children come along is the birth certificate, and it ought to be right."

Best of luck to the four couples and their children. We will keep our fingers crossed.


Ohio Appeals Federal Ruling Ordering State to Recognize Gay Marriage on Death Certificates

Just before the holiday, Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages...on death certificates.

ObergfellThe ruling came in a well-known case brought by John Arthur and Jim Obergfell, who flew to Maryland from Ohio last year so they could marry on the airport tarmac before Arthur's ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe, became too difficult.

Arthur died in October.

Ohio has now appealed the federal ruling, the AP reports:

The attorney general’s office filed its notice of appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. A brief containing its arguments will be filed later...

...Attorney General Mike DeWine previously said he would be appealing.

“Our job is to defend the Ohio Constitution and state statutes … and that’s what we intend to do,” he said.


Ohio University Student Charged In Snapchat Sex Extortion Case

Ohiouniversity

An Ohio University student, Dorian Graham, has been charged in a case involving Snapchat and Instagram as a means for sexual extortion. Graham, according to a report from WOWK-TV, pretended to be a female in order to encourage a male student to send naked photos via Snapchat; afterward Graham posted the photos on Instagram for others to see. Graham then extorted the other male student to engage in sexual activity at the school's Athens, OH campus by refusing to take the photos off of Instagram unless he complied with Graham's demands. 

It is truly a case for the technological age, and one which sees Graham facing several felony charges, including extortion and sexual battery. 


Idaho Professor Believes State's Anti-Gay Marriage Laws Could Easily Be Overturned, Cites Ohio And Utah

DavidAdlerIn an opinion piece for the Idaho Statesmen, Boise State University public affairs professor David Adler (right) stressed the precedent-setting Utah and Ohio decisions regarding same-sex marriage as indications that Idaho's own anti-gay marriage laws could easily be struck down. The two cases marked the first time federal judges ruled on the same-sex marriage laws of specific states after the take-down of DOMA, and they are indicative of the growing de-legitimization of laws barring marriage, or its recognition in other states. If Adler's predictions are accurate, Idaho, which recently had a lawsuit filed in the federal court, could see gay marriage legalized sooner than expected. 

The Idaho Statesmen reports:

Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision in the Utah case, which has a direct bearing on the Idaho Constitution, was significant to the national drive for same-sex marriage. It represents the first time a federal court has ruled on the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. Judge Shelby held that state laws barring same-sex marriage violate the due process clause and the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment.

The opinion in the Ohio case, delivered by Judge Timothy Black, is precedent-setting and speaks to Idaho law. While the ruling applies only to death certificates, Judge Black’s determination that “once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away,” represents a stark challenge to Idaho’s refusal to recognize the lawful marriages of same-sex couples in other states.

Utah and Ohio will appeal these rulings, but their legal rationales for banning gay marriage, like Idaho’s, have lost their force in light of the landmark opinion in Windsor. Idaho’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and its refusal to respect existing marriages undermines same-sex couples’ ability to pursue their goals and dreams, disadvantages them financially and denies what Kennedy called the “dignity and status of immense import.” 

Adler believes that Idaho's laws will not survive any scrutiny because they only serve to limit the rights of a minority and set them apart from the rest of the general public (rather than aiding any kind of governmental interest).


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