Local LGBTQA community reacts to rulings on same-sex marriageWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
By Brigitta Burks and Matt Liasse
After the United States Supreme Court ruled June 26 that same-sex married couples are entitled to the same federal rights as other married couples, local radio personality Steve Reamey made some potential plans for his weekend. He wanted to take his partner jewelry shopping.
“We’re gonna go look,” Reamey said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Other members of Toledo’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied community (LGBTQA) said while they are elated with the decision, there’s still more work to be done, especially since same-sex marriage is not yet recognized at a state level in Ohio.
“Today’s decision is really a historic victory for equal rights. I think the Supreme Court has once again affirmed that America has no second-class citizens,” said David Mann, spokesperson for Equality Toledo.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Many former supporters of DOMA, including Clinton, have since recanted their stances. The Supreme Court struck down the part of DOMA that had prohibited same-sex married couples from accessing federal benefits, and also ruled on Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Proponents of the ban should not have been able to appeal previous rulings against the ban, according to the Supreme Court. California has resumed allowing same-sex marriage.
University of Toledo law professor Rebecca Zietlow said federal benefits for married couples can include Social Security benefits, tax benefits, benefits for same-sex couples in the military, benefits in regard to bankruptcy law, health care benefits and more.
“What the decision means if you are a same-sex couple and you got married where same-sex marriage is allowed and you are still living in that state, you will be recognized under all federal laws,” she said.
However, Zietlow said that there is still uncertainty as to how the decision affects Ohioans and that she anticipates further litigation in regards to interpreting the Supreme Court’s decision.
According to Lambda Legal, a nonprofit advocating for the rights of the LGBT community, “Legally married same-sex couples living in a state that does not respect their marriages may right away have access to some federal rights and benefits, but not to many others, at least not immediately.”
About a year ago, Rebecca Facey and Angie Carriker traveled to New York City to get their marriage license after having an Ohio-based ceremony. The couple has been together since 2009 and met in 2006 at a domestic violence prevention training program.
Facey said she is thankful for organizations like Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who bring these cases to court.
“We’re just so grateful that the Supreme Court ruled the way they did. We cannot wait for Ohio to get on board and recognize our marriage as well, but we know that’s just a matter of time,” Facey said.
Lexi Staples, executive director of the Pride of Toledo Foundation, said, “I’m thrilled the LGBTQA community is becoming more accepted and that fact is being recognized widely. We have a long way to go … but ding, dong the DOMA’s dead!”
Rick Cornett, one of the main organizers for Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla, an annual event for the LGBTQA community, said he believes the Supreme Court decisions are a step in the right direction.
“I am ecstatic and couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud that the Supreme Court made the right decision toward equality for the LGBT community. This is a historic time for the gay community,” he said.
Reamey said that the decision means a lot to him personally.
“From my perspective, I’ve lived the animosity and the bigotry twice over being openly gay and African-American.”
“This [decision] is an affirmation for any gay person growing up. … That they do matter; that they have a financial future with a partner now.”
Mann stressed that these decisions are not the end of the battle, since same-sex marriage is not legal in Ohio and other states.
“The challenge is while DOMA is still unconstitutional, Ohioans still do not have rights to marriage,” he said.
“There are a number of rights LGBT Ohioans still do not have access to, so I think the battle now comes back to the community.”
Audrey Remusat, who came out in November, became active in the community in January and became involved with Equality Ohio in April. She was a “know-it-all” at Equality Ohio’s June 26 Pop-Up Party at Packo’s at the Park, who answered questions and clarified the Supreme Court ruling. The “Decision Day” celebration was one of eight in the state planned by Equality Ohio and was planned no matter the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.
It was a celebration.
“Before coming out, I’ve been on the side for basic rights,” Remusat said at the party. “I have my master’s degree in sociology so I’ve been fighting for equality from the get-go, ever since I first learned about it in college.”
The fight became more passionate after she came out.
“When you’re first identifying with it, and you agree with it, you don’t know where to go. You’re in support of it, but how do you voice this?” Remusat said. “Once you become intimately involved with it, I don’t want to say the light switch comes on, because it does; suddenly the picture is clearer.”
Remusat is transsexual, and because of a law that doesn’t allow the changing of gender on a birth certificate, identifies as a lesbian.
“I’m very, very happy and hopeful,” Remusat said. “It’s only a matter of time before [same-sex marriage] happens in every state. It’s not a question of if, it’s of when.”
The bar at Packo’s at the Park was filled with other supporters.
“I think it’s a great moment in history and I’m proud to be here to see it,” said ACLU member Sue Carter. “I believe in justice for all.”
Carter said she celebrated instantly when she heard the news.
“I ran into the house; I got all my equality flags; I stuck them in my yard,” she said. “I felt like I was watching history being made. This is like women getting the right to vote. I mean it’s huge. It’s an important issue.”
Brent Rabie, who’s on the board of directors for Equality Toledo, was at the party after an “eventful” and “exciting” day. When news broke of DOMA being ruled unconstitutional, Rabie said he was “pounding away” on Facebook.
“One day I could get married and get along with that phase of my life like everyone else can,” Rabie said. He added that he sees himself getting married in the future.
To learn more, visit www.lambdalegal.org/publications/after-doma.
Tags: Angie Carriker, Audrey Remusat, Bill Clinton, Brent Rabie, David Mann, Defense of Marriage Act, Equality Ohio, Equality Toledo, Lambda Legal, Lexi Staples, Rebecca Facey, Rebecca Zietlow, Rick Cornett, Steve Reamey