Many Ohio residents have been paying close attention to the legal battle over same-sex marriage. The practice was banned in Ohio by lawmakers in 2004, and the state’s residents have also supported a constitutional amendment prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage. However, these legislative efforts were consigned to the history books on June 26 when a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court rendered such laws unconstitutional.
The decision does not mark the first time that the nation’s highest court has waded into the legal quagmire surrounding this issue. A ruling made by the court in 2013 guaranteed same-sex couples the same federal benefits as other spouses, but it did not address the underlying question of constitutionality. However, the court has now answered this question by overturning the decision of a federal appeals court by a six to three vote. The case involved an Ohio resident seeking recognition as a surviving spouse. He had married his partner in Maryland, but authorities in Ohio refused to recognize the marriage.
While news of the Supreme Court decision was welcomed by gay rights activists around the country, it was also severely criticized in some quarters. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent that allowing a handful of justices to determine the law for 320 million Americans amounted to a threat to democracy while Chief Justice John Roberts said that the decision was based on social rather than constitutional arguments.
Many same-sex couples in Ohio will now be able to get married, but not all of these marriages will endure. An experienced family law attorney could explain the peace of mind that can be provided by a prenuptial agreement in addition to how Ohio law addresses matters such as the division of marital assets and child custody and visitation during a divorce.