The Lantern - Campus
Issue: 04/10/03

Same-sex marriages in trouble again
By Leslie Gabel

Same-sex couples soon may never reap the benefits of marriage while living in Ohio.

Senate Bill 65 was introduced at Ohio's last General Assembly to amend part of Ohio's Revised Code to specifically declare same-sex marriages against Ohio's public policy.

"Ohio's conservative legislature believes it's important to have and follow basic family structure, and the traditional family structure is best suited for this," said Sen. Larry Mumper, R-Marion, co-sponsor of SB 65.

The purpose of the bill is to reinforce and promote the tradition of marriage and its conventional definition in Ohio. SB 65 is intended to clarify the boundary between marriage and other relationships that typically substitute for marriage.

House Bill 234, also known as the Defense of Marriage Act, is equivalent to SB 65 and was approved in 2001. The bill was never decided on by the Senate. No hearings have been scheduled in the senate to review or vote on SB 65.

Members of Ohio's House and Senate have found their constituents are against same-sex marriages. SB 65 clarifies this viewpoint by amending section 3103.01 of the Revised Code, clarifying the current language to specify same-sex marriages are against Ohio's public policy.

The majority of supporters voicing opinions about this bill are conservatives. They believe that marriage should be granted only to a man and a woman.

Constituents from southern Ohio generally support this bill, said Matt Whatley, spokesman for Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, one of SB 65's co-sponsors.

Whatley said the majority of Ohio's citizens support the existing text and want SB 65 to pass in order to clarify the definition of marriage.

"A healthy society is one made up on traditions from structure," Mumper said. "This is not to say that non-traditional family structures are not healthy, since there is nothing wrong with a non-traditional family, but it has been shown that traditional families are more stable and better suited to provide support for our future generations."

Opposition to the legislation exists mostly in the groups that the bill targets.

"This bill is mean-spirited and unnecessary," said Will Crawford, co-chairman of FUSION, Ohio State's oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender student group.

"If it passes, this bill will be the harshest of its kind in the nation because it would outlaw domestic partner benefits of same-sex couples," Crawford said. "Plus, it would outlaw any chance of same-sex partners to become partners through a civil union."

Crawford said he believes SB 65 is unnecessary because it does not address a timely issue. Other topics in the world such as the state budget and the war need more immediate attention, he said.