Thursday was a dark day in Ohio. It was a day when we observed how far people will push to break down and restrict the rights of gay couples — not gay marriage, not even the “discussion” of gay marriage, but targeting individual couples. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) has declared that he will appeal a recent federal decision allowing John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, married in Maryland, to be recognized as married men in Ohio. Arthur suffers from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and it is due to take his life soon. With the help of donations the couple flew to Maryland, which legalized same-sex marriages last year, to tie the knot when their home state of Ohio would not.
On July 19, the couple filed a complaint against the state of Ohio describing and outlining why the attorney general’s behavior is not only unfair, but unconstitutional. John and Jim have support from the federal courts that their marriage in Maryland is supposed to be equal to a marriage in any other state, but DeWine refuses to comply. To DeWine, it may seem noble to stand up against sweeping gay marriage legalization or pressure from the federal government to universally accept all gay marriages, but that’s not even the case. John Arthur’s sole desire is to be recognized as spouses in death even though Ohio wouldn’t allow it while he was alive. He wants Jim to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate, and wants to be buried next to him when he passes.
This should be a cut-and-dry case, especially with the recent U.S. v. Windsor case in the Supreme Court. The decision nullified a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, and essentially required valid marriages to be recognized nationally, regardless of the marriage’s origin. The case came up when a widowed spouse of a same-sex couple married in Canada had to pay taxes on her wife’s estate when different-sex couples had to pay no such taxes. The summary of the case is: If you’re married, you’re married, no matter where.
This is an important step in determining how hard people will fight (and how miserable they will make same-sex couples) in their quests to “defend marriage.” Presently, DeWine can simply allow the federal mandate to protect a single couple in his state, or he can fight the federal courts over the dying wish of a single man. He seems to have chosen the latter.