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DOMA Decision Could Affect Ohio Marriage Laws in the Future

COLUMBUS (Dana Jay) -- The United States Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to strike down a key provision in the federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman will have no immediate effect on gay marriage bans in Ohio, but some scholars believe it could in the future.

Marc Spindelman, a constitutional and family law professor at Ohio State University, said the decision opens the door to legal challenges to Ohio’s defense of marriage statute, and its constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. 

Spindelman said the Court’s finding in the United States v. Windsor is significant because it hinges on equality, rather than states’ rights.

"The equal protection language of Windsor by its force appears to really call into serious question the validity of state prohibitions on same-sex marriage," he said. 

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that denying same-sex couples the same federal benefits as other married couples is unconstitutional.

"He used language like equality, that talked about the importance that this decision has for people and families," noted Amy Borror.

Borror and her partner, Amanda Powell, said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the same-sex marriage cases when the Court heard them in March.

“Certainly [the Windsor decision] doesn’t stretch as far as sort of washing across the land and making vast changes in the states, but this is absolutely the best we could hope for,” Powell said.

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