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Democratic challenger urges Ohio AG to drop appeal of marriage ruling

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Democrat challenging Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is calling attention to the Republican’s ongoing fight against a deceased gay man whose last wish was to be counted as married on his death certificate.

Jim Obergefell (left) and John Arthur are plaintiffs in the federal suit agaist Ohio. Arthur died on Oct. 22.

Jim Obergefell (left) and John Arthur are plaintiffs in the federal suit agaist Ohio. Arthur died on Oct. 22.

David Pepper, a former Cincinnati councilman and former Hamilton County commissioner, said DeWine is putting politics and ideology ahead of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 marriage decisions, and a Dec. 23 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black that called the attorney general’s case “vague, speculative and unsubstantiated.”

A petition started by Pepper’s campaign calls on DeWine to drop his planned appeal of Black’s order that Ohio recognize gay and lesbian couples’ out-of-state marriages on death certificates. Black called his ruling a limited one that doesn’t apply to the broader issue of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“We call upon Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to uphold this duty and end his outrageous battle to deny Ohioans Jim Obergefell and John Arthur the basic dignity and equal protection they successfully sought as John passed away,” the petition reads.

Obergefell and Arthur, of Cincinnati, were married in July in a medical transport plane on an airport tarmac in Maryland. Arthur, who suffered from ALS, died in October after the couple won a temporary restraining order in federal court to prevent the state from listing him as unmarried on his death certificate.

Black’s ruling in December made the order permanent.

DeWine spokesman David Tierney told Outlook that the attorney general intends to appeal Black’s ruling based on Ohio’s 2004 state constitutional amendment that allows only straight couples to marry.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act last June said states still could decide on their own whether to recognize marriage equality.

Black’s ruling, however, said Ohio’s refusal to recognize marriages performed in other states — on death certificates, in this instance — was unconstitutional. The state still might be able to keep gay and lesbian couples from marrying in Ohio, but the judge said it can’t take away their right to remain married if they were legally united somewhere else.

Pepper said the attorney general’s oath is to defend the U.S. Constitution first, but DeWine has placed Ohio’s marriage ban above people’s federal constitutional rights.

“The state of Ohio is trying to eliminate from a person’s death certificate a valid marriage, trying to scrub from history this person’s marriage,” the Democrat told Outlook. “Aren’t there better things to do than that?”

Pepper supports marriage equality but said it’s DeWine who is letting politics cloud his legal judgment on the case. The Republican, whose campaign website uses the slogan “Protecting Ohio Families,” announced an appeal of Black’s ruling “before the ink was dry,” Pepper said.

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4 more reader comments:

  1. According to what is in the article Judge Black’s ruling runs counter to what SCOTUS decided in the DOMA case. So the Ohio AG is on solid legal ground?

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:36pm
  2. DeWine is a total asshole. You might as well appeal to a urinal.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:37pm
  3. Some people need to get their businesses out of other people’s love lives and actually focus on why they are elected! Like economic issues, jobs, healthcare!!! Let people marry and love whom ever they choose! It’s their life and their right. Sometimes I feel like these elected officials don’t know how to run office so they focus on gay marriage and fight for what “their God” supposedly said is right or wrong. Well “their God” also says to love and respect each other but they choose to hate, discriminate and segregate based on their personal choices.

    What a corrupted, double standard world we live in. Tsk tsk.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:50pm
  4. Cheryl, It all has to do with money. They don’t want gays to be able to obtain many of the benefits that marry couples can enjoy such as filing jointly or the social security benefits. It really has nothing to do with their beliefs when you get right down to it!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 9:20pm