LGBT rights in Ohio

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LGBT rights in Ohio
Ohio (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1974
Gender identity/expression State does not alter sex on birth certificates for transsexuals
Discrimination protections Sexual orientation protections in state employment
Family rights
Recognition of
None statewide; Same-sex marriage recognized (for death certificate purposes only)[1]
Ohio State Issue 1 limits marriage to man/woman, places restrictions on non-marriage types of same-sex unions
Adoption Stepparent adoption illegal

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

Laws against same-sex sexual activity[edit]

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]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]


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 in the grounds 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.

Obergefell v. Wymyslo

On April 14, 2014, Judge Timothy Black, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, declared Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional and that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions in Obergefell v. Wymyslo.[3] On April 16, 2014, he stayed enforcement of his ruling except for the death certificates sought by the plaintiffs.[4] The case is currently being appealed by state Attorney General Mike DeWine.[5]

Domestic partnerships[edit]

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

Nine cities, village of Yellow Springs, and the counties of Cuyahoga and Franklin offer domestic partnership registries in Ohio.


Single homosexual individuals are permitted to adopt in Ohio.[6] Despite no explicit prohibition, courts have not allowed same-sex couples to do so. Second-parent adoptions are only available to someone recognized by the state as the spouse of the first parent.

Discrimination protections[edit]

Map of Ohio counties, cities, and villages that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment

Discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity, is prohibited within state employment by an executive order issued by Governor John Kasich on January 21, 2011.[7] There are no statewide protections in Ohio for sexual orientation and gender identity outside of state employment.

Twenty-nine Ohio cities and counties have anti-discrimination ordinances prohibiting discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation.[8]

Hate crime[edit]

Ohio's hate crime laws address violence based on race, color, religion or national origin, but not on sexual orientation or gender identity.[9]

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.”.[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Amanda Lee Myers (2013-12-23). "Federal judge weakens Ohio's ban on gay marriage". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ Eskridge, William N. (2008). Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003. NY: Viking Penguin. pp. 49, 50, 180. 
  3. ^ Myers, Amanda Lee (April 14, 2014). "Judge: Ohio must recognize other states' gay marriages". USA Today. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ Snow, Justin (April 16, 2014). "Federal judge grants partial stay in Ohio marriage-ban ruling". Metro Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to A.M. Equality - April 30, 2014". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  6. ^ "Ohio Adoption Law | Human Rights Campaign". December 14, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Establishing an Anti-Discrimination Policy in State Government Employment". Order 2011-05K, January 21, 2011. State of Ohio. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Anti-discrimination Ordinances in Ohio". ACLU of Ohio. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ Vindy: "Ohio’s hate-crime law falls short — as incidents reveal", accessed February 16, 2014
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Budd, Lawrence (May 4, 2012). "District proposes T-shirt case settlement". The Western Star. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  12. ^ Michael, Gryboski (May 22, 2012). "Court Judgment: Ohio Student Can Wear 'Jesus Is Not a Homophobe' Shirt,". Christian Post. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ Levi, Jennifer L.; Monnin-Browder, Elizabeth E., eds. (2012). Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. pp. 59n58.