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LGBT Equality Moves Forward in the Wake of 6th Circuit Decision

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea LGBT Equality Moves Forward in the Wake of 6th Circuit Decision
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At a time when state bans on same-sex marriages are dropping like flies, last week’s decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Ohio’s law denying recognition of same-sex marriages conducted outside the state was certainly a blow to the marriage equality movement. Still, Michael Premo, campaign manager for Why Marriage Matters Ohio, is looking on the bright side.

“The silver lining is that this makes it much more likely that the Supreme Court is going to finally take up the issue and we’re cautiously optimistic that they will and that they will ultimately rule in favor of the freedom to marry for the entire country,” said Premo. “They didn’t see the need to do so as long as the circuit courts of appeal were all in agreement. The 6th Circuit has now created that circuit split, so that makes it more likely they’ll take it up.”

Premo said he expects an appeal will be filed with the Supreme Court in the next two weeks. If the Court decides to take up the case and hold oral arguments, Premo hopes there could be a resolution to the issue by June. While Premo and Why Marriage Matters are approaching the potential legal battle with cautious optimism, they are preparing for a potential electoral battle as well.

“It is still our hope that the courts will resolve this issue but we will keep working so that if we need to go to the ballot we’ll be ready,” said Premo. The group will continue its focus on fostering conversations between Ohioans on the harm caused by same-sex marriage bans as the issue progresses through the courts, but Premo said Why Marriage Matters will also, “work with the LGBT community here in Ohio and nationally to develop a strategy if we don’t get the decision we want; what’s the timing of going to the ballot and what’s the language we would use going to the ballot? Because we are absolutely committed to keep working until we secure the freedom to marry here in Ohio.”

“It’s just a question of do the courts take care of this by June or do we need to go to the ballot in 2016,” continued Premo.

In the immediate future, Why Marriage Matters will participate in an interfaith prayer walk for equality on Sunday, organized by the Broad Street United Methodist Church. The walk will begin at the Broad Street church at 5 pm and continue to the Statehouse, ending at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Joy Bronson, Minister of Mission and Ministry at Broad Street United Methodist said the preparations for the walk began about a month ago after a training session with Equality Ohio, discussing ways the church could be more welcoming to the community.

“We have to be visible, we have to let people know that they’re welcome and that God loves them and God embraces them,” said Bronson.

Bronson said the event will be open to participants from all faiths and denominations, and if the walk is repeated in the future, she hopes more faith organizations will be involved in its preparation.

Along the walk, prayer stations will be set up where participants can reflect on issues of concern facing the LGBT community. One station will be focused on housing and employment, another on marriage equality and another on LGBT youth. One will focus on issues facing transgender persons, particularly important, said Bronson, “in light of the assault on a transgender person in Toledo last week.”

Bronson said 150 people have RSVP’d for the event, and probably more will come who haven’t replied, enough that walk organizers have decided participants will carry glow sticks instead of candles.

Why Marriage Matter has also helped gather participants by sending out a blast email and phone banking for three nights this week in order to bring more local supporters to Sunday’s walk.

“We expect that there will be a very good turnout of people from all faiths and denominations coming together to show support for full equality for LGBT Ohioans,” said Premo.

Though the interfaith walk was planned long before the 6th Circuit’s decision, Premo said the ruling “makes it even more important for folks to turn out and to show support for giving LGBT Ohioans full equality under the laws.”

“We just want people to take advantage of this opportunity to have these conversations to not get disheartened or to disappointed,” said Premo. “Because the silver lining is the Supreme Court will probably take up this case and we will have resolution by June. But regardless, marriage equality is coming to Ohio whether through the courts or through the ballot box, we will get it done here in Ohio.”

For more information, visit www.whymarriagemattersoh.org.

For ongoing discussion on same sex marriage in Ohio, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

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