The debate over same-sex marriage continues across the United States. The ruling made by the Supreme Court of the United States this past year, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act made the denial of federal benefits to same-sex spouses unconstitutional. What it did not do was change same-sex marriage laws on the state level.
Some states have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage, some have chosen to honor same-sex marriages entered into in another state and others have passed legislation banning same-sex marriage entirely. Ohio falls into this third category, and it is something that a recent lawsuit seeks to change.
Ohio law does not recognize same-sex marriage even if it was legally obtained in another state. The lawsuit was filed by four same-sex couples that had done just that. The lawsuit specifically targets birth certificates and the fact that only one same-sex partner can be named as a parent in the state.
For these couples, it isn’t just about being able to say that they are legally married in the state of Ohio. Whether or not their same-sex marriage is honored in the state has consequences that affect their parental rights. What if something were to happen in the future?
What if the couple decides to split? Each parent would not have equal rights in a child custody dispute. What if the legal parent passes away? The other parent could be denied parental rights. What if there is a medical emergency? There are many situations in which the marital status of the parents matter.
For couples that have questions about how their parental rights could be affected by a situation such as divorce, they should consult with an attorney that focuses their practice on family law.
Source: abc, “Couples Sue to Force Ohio’s Hand on Gay Marriage,” Amanda Lee Myers, Feb. 10, 2014