The Freedom to Marry in Ohio

Winning Marriage: June 26, 2015

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide on June 26, 2015, allowing all same-sex couples in Ohio the ability to marry once and for all. The decision followed nearly two years of marriage litigation in the state, including one of the cases the Supreme Court ruled on, Obergefell v. Hodges.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • February 6, 2004: The Ohio legislature passes a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples. Governor Bob Taft signs the bill into law.
  • November 2, 2004: Opponents of the freedom to marry in Ohio push through State Issue 1, a constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry and any other legal family status. The amendment cements clearly discriminatory language into the Ohio Constitution.
  • 2004-2013: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Ohio take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • September 23, 2012: Polling in Ohio tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • July 19, 2013: John Arthur, James Obergefell and private lawyers, joined later by the ACLU, file a federal legal case seeking the recognition of a marriage performed in Maryland, Obergefell v. Hodges. Just days later, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black grants an emergency temporary restraining order allowing the marriage to be recognized on the death certificate of John Arthur, the spouse of James Obergefell. John passes away on October 22, 2013. Read the order.
  • April 14, 2014: Judge Timothy Black rules in a separate case, Henry v. Hodges, that Ohio must respect same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Judge Black stays his ruling pending an appeal to the 6th Circuit. Read the ruling. And meet the plaintiffs in both cases. 
  • November 6, 2014: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against the freedom to marry in the Ohio cases (Obergefell and Henry) and three others, becoming the first appellate court in years to do so and setting up a final legal showdown at the United States Supreme Court. Read the ruling.
  • January 16, 2015: The United States Supreme Court grants review of the out-of-step 6th Circuit ruling upholding marriage discrimination.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples in a case that includes the Obergefell case, bringing the freedom to marry to Ohio – and the entire country – once and for all. Read the ruling here. 

Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage

  • Why Marriage Matters Ohio was a grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Ohio.
  • Equality Ohio is a statewide organization that envisions an Ohio where everyone feels at home, living in families and communities where equality, diversity and inclusiveness are universally valued, and where government protects all people and responds to their needs, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
  • The ACLU of Ohio is the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, committed to standing up for equality for all Ohioans.
  • Lambda Legal is the United States' first legal organization dedicated to achieving full equality for gay and lesbian people. The organization was counsel in the Henry v. Hodges case.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the country.
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

Legal Documents:

MEET THE PLAINTIFFS: 'Obergefell v. Wymyslo' MOTION GRANTED: For Temporary Restraining Order in 'Obergefell v. Wymyslo' FINAL ORDER: 'Obergefell v. Wymyslo' INITIAL COMPLAINT: 'Henry v. Wymyslo' INITIAL COMPLAINT: 'Gibson v. Himes' RULING: 'Henry v. Himes' RULING: 6th Circuit Appeals Court in 'Obergefell v. Wymyslo' & 'Henry'

Audio from the 6th Circuit Hearing on Ohio's Marriage Ban