Same-sex marriage in Ohio has been legal since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark decision in which the court struck down Ohio's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage on June 26, 2015.[1] The case was named after plaintiff Jim Obergefell, who sued the state of Ohio after officials refused to recognize his marriage on the death certificate of his husband.[2] Same-sex marriages were performed in Ohio beginning shortly after the Supreme Court released its ruling, as local officials implemented the order.[1]

Two lawsuits in federal court challenged Ohio's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, asking Ohio to recognize marriages from other jurisdictions for the purpose of recording a spouse on a death certificate and for recording parents' names on birth certificates. Judge Timothy Black, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. He stayed general enforcement of his ruling, but ordered the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages for completing death certificates in all cases and for four birth certificates. Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed the rulings to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which consolidated the two cases and held oral arguments on August 6, 2014. That court upheld Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage on November 6, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the decision and declared same-sex marriages legal in the United States in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015.

Legal history


On December 10, 2003, the Ohio House of Representatives, by a 73–23 vote, passed the Defense of Marriage Act. The Ohio Senate passed the act by an 18–15 vote on January 21, 2004, and Governor Bob Taft signed it into law on February 6. Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act banned same-sex marriage, along with the "statutory benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships". It also prohibited state recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.[3][4]

On November 2, 2004, Ohio voters approved State Issue 1, a state-initiated constitutional amendment that prohibited the recognition of same-sex marriage, as well as any "legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage" in the state of Ohio. The amendment went into effect on December 2, 2004.[5]

Initiative to repeal constitutional ban

In 2013, FreedomOhio and Equality Ohio sought state officials' approval of a ballot initiative that would replace the constitutional amendment and allow same-sex marriage.[6][7] Two prominent Republicans, Senator Rob Portman and former Attorney General Jim Petro, gave their support to the campaign.[8]


Obergefell v. Hodges

Main article: Obergefell v. Hodges

A Cincinnati same-sex couple filed a lawsuit, Obergefell v. Kasich, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on July 19, 2013, alleging that the state discriminated against same-sex couples who have married lawfully out-of-state. The named-defendant was Governor John Kasich. On July 22, 2013, District Judge Timothy S. Black granted the couple's motion, temporarily restraining the vital statistics registrar from accepting any death certificate unless it recorded the deceased's status at death as "married" and his partner as "surviving spouse".[9] On August 13, 2013, Black extended the temporary restraining order until the end of December.[10] The case was restyled Obergefell v. Wymyslo on September 25, with Health Department Director Theodore Wymyslo as the named defendant, and funeral director Robert Grunn was added to the lawsuit so that he could obtain clarification of his legal obligations under Ohio law when serving clients with same-sex spouses. On December 23, 2013, Judge Black ruled that Ohio's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions was discriminatory and ordered Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions on death certificates.[11]

Judge Black ruled in a similar case about the same time. In Henry v. Wymyslo, four same-sex couples legally married in other states sued to force the state to list both parents on their children's birth certificates.[12] On April 14, 2014, Black ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions,[13] and on April 16 stayed enforcement of his ruling except for the birth certificates sought by the plaintiffs.[14] Attorney General Mike DeWine announced plans to appeal the decision.

On May 20, the Sixth Circuit consolidated the two cases, now Obergefell v. Hodges with the appointment of Richard Hodges as the new director of the Ohio Department of Health, and on November 6 ruled 2–1 that Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage did not violate the Constitution of the United States.[15] On January 16, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court consolidated Obergefell v. Hodges with three other cases from Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee, agreeing to review the case.[16] After hearing oral arguments the following April, the court ruled on June 26, 2015 that Ohio's constitutional ban violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on equal protection and due process grounds. The ruling meant that the earlier Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision was reversed and same-sex couples began immediately marrying in the state.[17] Governor Kasich said he was disappointed by the court ruling but said, "They've made their decision and we just move on".[18]

Among the first same-sex couples to marry in Ohio were Roy Keith Garrett and Chris Richardson in Cleveland on June 26 just hours after the Supreme Court's ruling. Two more couples, Jamie Moore and Tim Scott, and Patricia Hanen and Elaine McCoy, were married just minutes later in the same city.[19] Jimmie Beall and Mindy Ross were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Columbus. The couple had unsuccessfully applied for a license every Valentine's Day for the past 7 or 8 years.[18] Across the state, many couples rushed to their county courthouse in the hours after the court decision to apply for licenses, including in Dayton,[20] Ironton,[21] and Toledo.[22] Mayor John Cranley officiated at the weddings of half a dozen same-sex couples on June 26 at the Fountain Square in Cincinnati.[23]

Developments after legalization

On March 15, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court decided to issue gender-neutral references in family court cases instead of terms such as "husband" and "wife". The order includes "father", "mother", "parent" and "spouse" in its description of terms expressing familial relationships, which cover the areas of divorce, child support, guardianships, adoption, domestic relations and domestic violence.[24][25] The order took effect the same day.

Marriage statistics

In 2014, the Williams Institute estimated that there were 19,684 same-sex couples living in Ohio, of whom 19% were raising children.[26]

2018 estimates from the United States Census Bureau showed that there were about 32,900 same-sex households in Ohio.[27] This represented an increase compared to 2017 (about 31,400 couples), 2016 (about 27,600 couples), 2015 (about 26,850 couples) and 2014 (about 26,000 couples). The Bureau estimated that 54.4% of same-sex couples living in the state in 2018 were married.

Public opinion

A September 2012 poll by The Washington Post indicated that 52% of Ohio residents surveyed said that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 37 percent said it should be illegal.[28]

A March 2013 Saperstein poll for The Columbus Dispatch revealed that 54% of Ohio residents surveyed supported a proposed amendment that would repeal the state's 2004 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.[29] An August 2013 Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey of 551 Ohio voters found that 48% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, while 42% remained opposed and 10% said they were not sure. The survey was the first from PPP to find plurality support for same-sex marriages in Ohio. Pollsters also found that 69% of Ohio respondents supported either marriage (44%) or civil unions (25%) for same-sex couples, including a majority (54%) of Republican voters. 27% of respondents said that there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.[30]

A February 2014 Quinnipiac University poll found that 50% of Ohio voters supported same-sex marriage, while 44% were opposed, and 5% did not know or were indifferent.[31] Another February 2014 poll, released two days later by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), found that 53% of Ohio residents supported same-sex marriage, while 38% were opposed, and 9% did not know or refused to answer.[32]

An April 2014 poll by SurveyUSA found that 49% of Ohio voters thought same-sex marriage should not be legalized, with 43% thinking it should be and 8% were unsure.[33] An October 2014 poll by YouGov found that 45% of Ohio respondents were in favor of same-sex marriage, with 40% against such unions and 15% being unsure.[34]

A 2016 PRRI poll showed a 56% majority in favor of same-sex marriage in Ohio.[35] In 2017, the PRRI found that 61% of Ohio respondents supported same-sex marriage, while 33% opposed it and 6% were unsure.[36] A PRRI survey conducted between March 8 and November 9, 2021 showed that 69% of Ohio respondents supported same-sex marriage, while 30% were opposed.[37]

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Latest: Same-sex marriages underway in Ohio". Fox 19 Now. June 26, 2015. Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Geidner, Chris (June 26, 2015). "Jim Obergefell Is First In Line, Awaiting Supreme Court's Word On His Marriage". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  3. ^ What is DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)?
  4. ^ Sub. H.B. 272
  5. ^ "Ohio citizens approve Issue 1". The Post (Ohio University). November 3, 2004. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  6. ^ "Ohio could get chance to approve same-sex marriage". June 26, 2013.
  7. ^ "After SCOTUS rulings on gay marriage, what's next for Ohio?". Columbus Monthly. June 2013.
  8. ^ "Jim Petro, Former Ohio GOP Attorney General, Backs Campaign To Overturn State Gay Marriage Ban". Huffington Post. July 8, 2013.
  9. ^ "Ohio Officials Ordered To Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage". Buzzfeed. July 22, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  10. ^ "Gay Ohio Couple Win Extension Recognizing Marriage". Edge Boston. August 13, 2013.
  11. ^ Bzdek, Vincent; Sewell, Dan (December 23, 2013). "Ohio's ban on gay marriage ruled unconstitutional in limited case". Washington Post. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  12. ^ Myers, Amanda Lee (February 10, 2014). "Couples Sue to Force Ohio's Hand on Gay Marriage". ABC News. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Myers, Amanda Lee (April 14, 2014). "Judge: Ohio must recognize other states' gay marriages". USA Today. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  14. ^ Snow, Justin (April 16, 2014). "Federal judge grants partial stay in Ohio marriage-ban ruling". Metro Weekly. Archived from the original on April 16, 2014. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  15. ^ Geidner, Chris (November 6, 2014). "Federal Appeals Court Upholds Four States' Same-Sex Marriage Bans". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  16. ^ Geidner, Chris (January 16, 2015). "Supreme Court Will Hear Four Cases Challenging Same-Sex Marriage Bans". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  17. ^ "Gay marriage ceremonies begin in Ohio after ban rejected by Supreme Court". WLWT 5. June 26, 2015.
  18. ^ a b "Same-Sex Couples Receive Marriage Licenses In Downtown Columbus Following Supreme Court Ruling". WOSU. June 26, 2015.
  19. ^ "First gay couple married in Cleveland hours after release of Supreme Court ruling". June 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Rodzinka, Paul (June 26, 2015). "Mayor Whaley marries first same sex couple in Dayton". WDTV. Dayton.
  21. ^ "First southern Ohio same-sex marriage license issued". Portsmouth Daily Times. June 30, 2015.
  22. ^ Henderson, Emilie (June 27, 2019). "Looking back at Lucas County's first same sex marriage". Wtol11.
  23. ^ Eigelbach, Kevin (June 26, 2016). "Who's keeping track of how many marriage licenses same-sex couples have received? No one". WCPO.
  24. ^ "Ohio Supreme Court ditches 'husband' and 'wife' for gender neutral terms". LGBT Nation. March 15, 2016.
  25. ^ "Ohio Supreme Court Adopts Gender-Neutral Language". WYSO. March 15, 2016.
  26. ^ "Same-sex Couples in Ohio: A demographic summary" (PDF). The Williams Institute. April 2014.
  27. ^ "Characteristics of Same-Sex Couple Households: 2005 to Present".
  28. ^ Somashekhar, Sandhya; Craighill, Peyton M. (October 9, 2012). "Polls in Fla., Ohio and Va. see same-sex marriage support". Washington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  29. ^ Rowland, Darrel (March 24, 2012). "Poll: Ohio marriage views shift". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
  30. ^ "Plurality Of Ohioans Support Gay Marriage". On Top Magazine. August 23, 2013.
  31. ^ Quinnipiac HomeRegional DefinitionsContacts and InformationStaffSearch Releases February 24, 2014 - Ohio Voters Back Medical Marijuana 8-1 Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Support For Same-Sex Marriage Hits 50 Percent
  32. ^ A Shifting Landscape
  33. ^ OH Voters Are Focused on Job Creation, Opposed to Affordable Care Act, Split on Same-Sex Marriage, In Favor of Medical Marijuana:
  34. ^ "YouGov | Voters in 31 states favor same-sex marriage". YouGov: What the world thinks. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
  35. ^ "Public opinion on same-sex marriage by state: Ohio".
  36. ^ "Public opinion on same-sex marriage by state: Ohio".
  37. ^ "PRRI – American Values Atlas 2021: Ohio". Public Religion Research Institute. Retrieved June 24, 2022.