DeWine Defends Ohio Marriage Amendment Despite Calling Cincinnati Case ‘Tragic’

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UPDATED: Wednesday July 24, 2013 6:36 PM

A same sex couple in Cincinnati could unravel the constitutional amendment in Ohio that declared marriage between a man and a woman.

"The case in Cincinnati is a real tragedy.  We have two individuals, two men, and one of them is dying so it is very, very sad," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.  "But Ohio voters made it very, very clear what they wanted to do in regard to same sex marriage.  My job as attorney general is to support the law and defend the law if it's attacked in court."

DeWine says he'll lead the fight against Federal Judge Timothy Black who ordered Ohio to recognize the marriage of a terminally ill gay man on his state death certificate.

After a 20 year relationship, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur were married in Maryland onboard a special medical jet earlier this month.

Arthur suffers from Lou Gerhig's Disease and cannot travel without medical support.

"I want what any other couple in the state would receive and that's recognition," said Obergefell.  "When your spouse passes away, do you want your marriage recognized?  Or when you pass away, do you want your spouse to have your marriage recognized?  That's why it's important to me."

Black's temporary ruling will allow Obergefell to be listed as the spouse on the death certificate and enable Arthur to be buried where he wants.

"There are other long term implications that go beyond his life," said DeWine.  "The survivor under this order would be able to take full advantage under Ohio tax law of being a surviving spouse.  He would be able to take advantage under federal law, I assume, for Social Security and any other benefits that he might be entitled to as a result of being a spouse."

DeWine says he expects the case to reach the 6th Circuit, before ultimately being decided by the US Supreme Court.
 
Ian James from FreedomOhio says voters could solve this marriage issue long before the courts.

"This case is going to take years," James said.  "I think everybody knows it could take five years or 60 months.  We're going to be able to solve this problem with a vote of the people in November 2014."

James says despite questions over the timing, the Marriage Equality Amendment will be on the ballot next year.  He also credits the couple for putting a real face on the marriage debate.

"I think we're going to look back and see these two gentlemen, and their sad story that is being told, on the foundation of love," said James.  "They have availed themselves to the public and they're both to be commended."

With DeWine up for reelection next year, his Democratic opponent David Pepper has already raised the issue and criticized the Republican incumbent for not showing support for the couple.

"This case is a truly sad example of constitutional rights being violated," said Pepper.  "I respectfully call upon DeWine to recognize the clear Constitutional wrongs taking place here and allow this couple to spend their final weeks together in dignity."

DeWine says he's fine with ultimately leaving the issue to Ohio voters.

"Some states have gone one way, Ohio has not gone that way," said DeWine.  "And we should allow the states to work this out state-by-state, respect the citizens of Ohio and respect the Ohio constitution."

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