Ohio legal documents designed to protect your family no matter your relationship status



Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in Ohio. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with Ohio law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.

Although the US Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay and lesbian couples legally married and living in a state that recognizes that marriage, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples living in Ohio are not legally recognized as spouses even if they were married in a marriage equality state or country.

Ohio same-sex partners and family members may experience discrimination in many different ways. Some of them, like snubbing by your family of origin or by complete strangers in a social setting, can’t be dealt with legally; they require a set of adaptive behaviors, including education, humor, and a thick skin. But typical anti-discrimination laws do cover several areas.

Here is a run-down on Ohio law affecting the LGBTQ community:

1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment, Ohio State Issue 1, that banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. It passed with 62% of the vote. Its impact on the state’s domestic abuse law was later clarified when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the language of the statute that referred to a victim of abuse who was “living as a spouse” with a defendant did not constitute the creation of a legal status. Cleveland Taxpayers v. Cleveland, a lawsuit challenging domestic partnership registries as violating the amendment, failed in October 2010.

FreedomOhio and Equality Ohio are considering a ballot initiative for the 2014 or 2016 elections which would replace the constitutional amendment to allow same-sex marriage. Two prominent Republicans, Senator Rob Portman and former Attorney General Jim Petro, support repealing the same-sex marriage ban.

On July 19, 2013, a Cincinnati, Ohio, same-sex couple filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Southern District of Ohio, alleging that the state discriminates against same-sex couples who have married lawfully out-of-state. Because one partner, John Arthur, was terminally ill and suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the couple wants the Ohio Registrar to identify the other partner, James Obergefell, as his surviving spouse on his death certificate based on their July 11, 2013, Maryland marriage. On October 22, 2013, when John Arthur, died, the state defendants moved to dismiss the case as moot. Judge Black, in his order dated November 1, 2013, recognized “As fully anticipated by all parties, Plaintiff John Arthur died very recently … The question now arises whether this lawsuit dies with him.” Answering his own question, the judge posits: “Believing that courts are designed to be places of recourse, and that judges are not to duck legal questions simply because they are difficult or because the initial status quo has changed, this Court determines that this lawsuit is not amenable to dismissal but instead shall proceed to a full and final disposition, in the trial court, before the new year.” Denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Black stated this case will be resolved in late December, 2013.

Nine cities in Ohio offer domestic partnership registries. The first city to offer domestic partnerships was Cleveland Heights in 2003, which was passed by voter referendum.Toledo began offering domestic partnerships in 2007.In 2008, the Cleveland City Council created a domestic partner registry.In 2011, the Athens City Council established a domestic partner registry. In 2012, the Dayton City Commission,the Cincinnati City Council, and the Columbus City Council approved ordinances creating domestic partnership registries. Yellow Springs and Oberlin created domestic partnership registries in 2012, as did Cuyahoga County.

2 Adoption Law: Single homosexual individuals are permitted to adopt in Ohio. Despite no explicit prohibition, courts have not allowed same-sex couples to do so. Second-parent adoptions are only available to someone recognized by the state as the spouse of the first parent.

3 Anti-Discrimination Law: Discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity, is prohibited within state employment by an executive order issued by Governor John Kasich on January 21, 2011.There are no statewide protections in Ohio for sexual orientation and gender identity outside of state employment. Twenty-nine Ohio cities and counties have anti-discrimination ordinances prohibiting discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation.

In 2012, 16 year-old high school student Maverick Couch, represented by Lambda Legal, sued the Waynesville Local School District after being told he could not come to school wearing a t-shirt with the words “Jesus is not a homophobe” because it was “sexual in nature and therefore indecent”. The suit ended in a judgement in federal court in Cincinnati agreed to by all parties to the suit that affirmed Couch’s right to wear the shirt to school and ordered the school district to pay $20,000 in damages and legal fees.

4 Sodomy Law: Ohio became the eighth state to repeal its sodomy statute on December 22, 1972. It remained a misdemeanor to propose sodomy to another person, but in 1979 a state court decision narrowed that provision to cover only cases in which the proposition was “unwelcome”.

5Gender Identity: Following a 1987 court case, In re Ladrach, Ohio does not allow persons born in the state to amend the sex information on their birth certificates following sex reassignment surgery.

6Public Opinion: According to a 2013 Public Policy Polling survey of 551 Ohio voters conducted between August 16 and 19, 48 percent of respondents support marriage equality, while 42 percent remain opposed. Ten percent said they were not sure. The survey is the first from PPP to find plurality support for gay nuptials in Ohio. Pollsters also found that 69 percent of Ohioans support either marriage (44%) or civil unions (25%) for gay couples, including a majority (54%) of Republican voters. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
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