LGBT rights in Ohio

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
LGBT rights in Ohio
Ohio (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1972
Gender identity/expression State does not alter sex on birth certificates for transsexuals
Discrimination protections There are no statewide protections in Ohio for sexual orientation and gender identity outside of state employment
Family rights
Recognition of
Marriage; Joint and step-parent adoption legal[1]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Ohio face some legal challenges non-LGBT residents do not. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Ohio. Families headed by same-sex spouses are eligible for the same protections available to opposite-sex spouses.[1]

Laws against same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Main article: Lawrence v. Texas

Ohio adopted its first sodomy law in 1885 and revised it to include fellatio in 1889. It became the eighth state to repeal its sodomy statute on December 22, 1972. It remained a misdemeanor to propose sodomy to another person, but in 1979 a state court decision narrowed that provision to cover only cases in which the proposition was "unwelcome".[2] On 26 June 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas to abolish all remaining sodomy laws and statutes nationwide.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]


Main article: Obergefell v. Hodges
Obergefell v. Hodges

On the 26th June, 2015 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the State of Ohio (along with Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee) could not deny same-sex couples the right to marry, or refuse to recognize their marriages preformed elsewhere; protected under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This ruling reversed a November 2014 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in those States and nationwide.[3]

Defense of Marriage Act

Representative Bill Seitz introduced the Defense of Marriage Act in the State House of Representatives. It passed the House by 73-23 and the Senate 18-15. It was opposed by many Democrats in the Senate, joined by four Republicans, and the UCC. Governor Bob Taft signed the legislation on February 6, 2004. The legislation was enacted in the aftermath of the Goodridge decision on November 18, 2003, in Massachusetts.

Constitutional amendment

Ballot Issue 1 of 2004 was a constitutional amendment initiated by the legislature and approved by a margin of 61%-38%. Governor Taft and Rep. Bill Seitz both opposed the amendment on the grounds that it was too vague. It amended Article XV, Section 11 of the Ohio Constitution to defined marriage so as to exclude same-sex couples. Official supporters were Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage and the Traditional Marriage Crusade. Ohioans for Fairness led the opposition to the amendment. This amendment to Ohio's constitution was later invalidated by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Marriage and Domestic Partnership[edit]

Same-sex marriage is preformed and recognized in all of Ohio's eighty-eight counties.[3] Nine cities, the Village of Yellow Springs, and the counties of Cuyahoga and Franklin offer domestic partnership registries. The fate of these registries remains uncertain following the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Map of Ohio counties, cities, and villages that offer marriage and/or domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City or village offers marriage and/or domestic partner benefits
  Marriage and/or county-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  Marriage only. County, city, or village does not offer domestic partner benefits


Single homosexual individuals are permitted to adopt in Ohio.[4] Joint and step-parent adoption is legal for same-sex spouses in the State.[5]

Discrimination protections[edit]

There are no statewide protections in Ohio for sexual orientation and gender identity outside of state employment. Discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity, is prohibited within State employment under an executive order issued by Governor John Kasich on January 21, 2011. Thirty Ohio cities and counties have anti-discrimination ordinances prohibiting employment and housing discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation.

Map of Ohio counties, cities, and villages that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances. Note: This map may not list all current localities.
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity in public employment
  Sexual orientation solely in State employment

Hate crime[edit]

Ohio's hate crime laws address violence based on race, color, religion or national origin, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. However, federal law does provide some protections within the State.

Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010 (H.R. 2647). Conceived as a response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., the measure expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The bill also removes the prerequisite that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity, like voting or going to school; Gives federal authorities greater ability to engage in hate crimes investigations that local authorities choose not to pursue; Provides $5 million per year in funding for fiscal years 2010 through 2012 to help state and local agencies pay for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes; Requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track statistics on hate crimes based on gender and gender identity (statistics for the other groups were already tracked).

Freedom of expression[edit]

In 2012, 16-year-old high school student Maverick Couch, represented by Lambda Legal, sued the Waynesville Local School District after being told he could not come to school wearing a T-shirt with the words "Jesus is not a homophobe". The board explained their position, “Wayne Local School District Board of Education had the right to limit clothing with sexual slogans, especially in light what was then a highly charged atmosphere, in order to protect its students and enhance the educational environment. Consequently, the high school principal was well within the bounds of his authority to request that the student remove his T-shirt and refrain from wearing the T-shirt in the future.”.[6] The suit ended in a judgement in federal court in Cincinnati agreed to by all parties to the suit that affirmed Couch's right to wear the shirt to school and ordered the school district to pay $20,000 in damages and legal fees.[7][8]

Gender reassignment[edit]

Following a 1987 court case, In re Ladrach, Ohio does not allow persons born in the state to amend the sex information on their birth certificates following sex reassignment surgery.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ohio Marriage and Stepparent law; The Columbus Dispatch". the columbus dispatch. July 5, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  2. ^ Eskridge, William N. (2008). Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003. NY: Viking Penguin. pp. 49, 50, 180. 
  3. ^ a b "The Latest: Same-sex marriages underway in Ohio". Fox 19 Now. June 26, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2015.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "latest" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ "Ohio Adoption Law Human Rights Campaign". December 14, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Ohio Stepparent Adoption law; Columbus Dispatch". columbusdispatch. July 5, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015. 
  6. ^ Martin, Shawn (April 4, 2012). "Ohio teen Maverick Couch takes school to court over 'Jesus is not a homophobe' shirt". ABC15. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  7. ^ Budd, Lawrence (May 4, 2012). "District proposes T-shirt case settlement". The Western Star. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ Michael, Gryboski (May 22, 2012). "Court Judgment: Ohio Student Can Wear 'Jesus Is Not a Homophobe' Shirt,". Christian Post. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ Levi, Jennifer L.; Monnin-Browder, Elizabeth E., eds. (2012). Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. pp. 59n58.