Local impact of Supreme Court rulings on DOMA, Prop. 8

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - FOX19 sat down with two local professors to explain how the Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 will impact the Tri-State.

Currently Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana all have laws on the books defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"The court went to great lengths today to point out that its decision did not affect states in those positions," explained Phil Sparkes, Director of NKU's Chase Local Government Law Center.

Sparkes says instead of making a broad judgment about same sex marriage the U.S. Supreme Court went with a fairly narrow ruling.

"The Prop 8 case gave the court an opportunity to make a declaration about the constitutionality of same sex marriage and the court decided not to take the invitation and passed it back to the lower courts," he said.

"What the court says, as it typically as in this area, is that historically and traditionally marriage and some other domestic issues has been the kind of domain, if you will, of the states," explained UC law professor Ronna Greff Schneider.

They say the lines are now gray, however, for gay couples who have a legalized marriage in one state and then move to a state with a ban in place.

"The court did not strike down the provision of DOMA that permits states to deny recognition of same sex marriages performed in other states," Sparkes told FOX19.

"That issue has not been resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court and I think that is the real tricky one for subsequent litigation," echoed Schneider.

While the Supreme Courts' decision does not directly impact the Tri-state, Sparkes says it represents a major societal shift in a relatively short timeframe.

"In a mere seventeen years we have gone from a time when the Defense of Marriage Act was the common understanding in all 50 states that marriage was between one man and a woman to a situation today where in 13 states the court recognizes that those states have the right to define marriage differently if they want to," Sparkes said.

While cities like Cincinnati have anti-discrimination laws on the books protecting people despite their sexual orientation, the ACLU says it is still legal in Ohio to fire someone or deny housing to someone who identifies as gay or lesbian.

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