At a same-sex marriage rally here on the eve of a legal showdown in federal appeals court, the two words used most often were love and win.
About 1,000 supporters from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee gathered in a downtown Cincinnati park to hear from politicians, clergy members and several of the people who filed lawsuits that will be heard today in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
One of the speakers was James Obergefell, a Cincinnati man who sued when the state of Ohio refused to recognize his out-of-state marriage to his longtime partner, John Arthur, who subsequently died. Under current state law — which recognizes marriages only between a man and a woman — Obergefell cannot be listed as Arthur’s spouse or his survivor.
“The state wants to take away my legal marriage,” Obergefell said. “That isn’t right. That isn’t fair.
“I’m a husband. I’m a widower, and I’m not willing to give up either one of them. Our marriage matters.”
In a park watched over by a 20-foot-tall bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, supporters cheered and waved signs and equality flags. Children played on playground equipment nearby.
Other speakers included former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and Ed FitzGerald, a Cleveland Democrat who is running against Gov. John Kasich, a Republican.
Pastor Leslie Jones, of Truth & Destiny Covenant Ministries, one of several members of the clergy who spoke in favor of same-sex marriage, called the court cases “an issue of religious freedom. The state should not favor one religion over another. God is love, and love is for everyone.”
A three-judge appeals court panel will hear six cases — two from Ohio plus others from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, all states covered by the court’s jurisdiction.
Marc Spindelman, a professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and an expert on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, said the hearings will be “a blockbuster, whatever the court decides.”
“On the merits, the disputes in these cases involve the answer to the question: How do recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving lesbian and gay rights affect state-level bans on same-sex marriage? What should happen to state laws that treat same-sex couples and their marriages different than their cross-sex counterparts?”
By Alan Johnson - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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