Press Room

February 06, 2004

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HRC Denounces Ohio Ban on Marriage and Marriage-Related Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

GLBT Families Deserve Nothing Less than Equality Under the Law, Says HRC

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign denounced Ohio's ban on marriage and marriage-related benefits for same-sex couples and other unmarried couples, signed today by Republican Gov. Bob Taft. The law not only prohibits any recognition of marriages between same-sex couples but also precludes the "recognition or extension of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage" to any unmarried couple. Such a divisive and discriminatory law could have devastating effects on Ohio families, says HRC.

"This law blatantly discriminates against hard-working, tax-paying Ohioans," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "A law that prevents a state employee from ever receiving health insurance for her partner is wrong, plain and simple. In Ohio - and in every state in this nation - we deserve nothing less than equality under law."

According to an analysis of the 2000 Census, every single county in Ohio is home to at least one same-sex couple and same-sex couples with children in Ohio are raising an average of 1.79 children. Heterosexual couples are raising an average of 1.93 children. The law prevents state employees from ever receiving health insurance benefits for their unmarried partners - undoubtedly leading to more uninsured individuals in the state. Additionally, out-of-state same-sex couples who are both legal parents of their children may see these adoptions invalidated or not honored when they visit or move to Ohio.

"The governor should know that this is bad for Ohio families and bad for Ohio businesses," said Tim Downing, chair of Ohioans for Growth and Equality (OGE) and HRC board of director. "From OSU's president to the mayor of Cincinnati, leaders in Ohio are recognizing that fairness is good for the economy - for the governor to ignore this fact is shameful."

A broad range of Ohioans spoke out against House Bill 272 - including Republican Attorney General Jim Petro, who told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he opposed the bill, saying it was "a little too broad" and "a little unfair." In addition, Ohio State University President Karen Holbrook urged Taft to veto the bill, saying it would have an "adverse impact on the efforts of Ohio State, one of Ohio's largest employers, to attract and retain employees." Holbrook made clear that OSU's inability to do the same will cost the university some of its "best and brightest." Several other companies expressed opposition to the measure, including Fortune 500 ranked NCR Corporation, which is based in Dayton, Ohio, and the software company Missing Lynx, which is currently based in San Ramon, Calif., and was set to consider relocating to Cleveland if the governor vetoed the measure.

Ohio becomes the 39th state with a law banning marriage rights for same-sex couples however, no other state prohibits the extension of benefits to all unmarried couples. On Jan. 29, 2004, South Carolina State Rep. Gloria Haskins, a Republican, introduced a measure (H.B. 4657) that would also prohibit such benefits for unmarried couples. In 2004, legislators in 26 states have introduced measures that would ban marriage rights for same-sex, and, in some cases, opposite-sex couples.

HRC has worked closely with OGE every step of the way during the legislative process, contributing staff time and expertise, writing testimony and providing legal analysis. On Thursday, HRC joined with Log Cabin Republicans and OGE in running a full-page ad in the Columbus Dispatch urging constituents to call the governor's office and ask him to veto the bill.

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