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Custody rights hard to obtain for gay couples in Ohio

If a gay rights group in Ohio achieves its goal, gays may be able to marry in the state after next year's November election. The organization, named FreedomOhio, has made a proposal and is seeking to have it placed on the 2013 ballot. The proposal is an amendment to the state constitution that would allow two consenting adults, regardless of their gender, to marry. Bigamists, first cousins and siblings would remain excluded.

Without the right to marry, many same-sex couples in Ohio experience severely frustrating road blocks, especially when it comes to the legal realm. Custody agreements are rarely approved because, legally, a same-sex couple does not have the right to adoption, visitation, custody or joint parenting. Divorce protections such as community property and child support are also hard to obtain for homosexuals.

In addition, joint insurance policies and tax returns are things that a same-sex couple has to fight for to have because they are not allowed to marry in the state. According to one man, he and his partner -- who married in Canada in 2003 -- have spent more than $8,000 in legal costs to receive just some of the benefits that a married couple receives by filing a $50 marriage license.

The federal government has created a list of rights that same-sex couples are denied by being denied the right to marry: It comes to a total of near 1,400.

In 2004, the state of Ohio passed a state law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but it seems that the tides are changing. With the support of President Obama along with many other high-profile groups and figures, the proposal made by FreedomOhio may have a chance. Public polls have shown that, nationwide, support for gay marriage has increased from 42 percent in 2004 to 50 percent last month. The survey was conducted before Obama and others expressed their public support of gay marriage.

Source: Toledo Blade, "Betting on Ohio's evolution on gay marriage," David Kushma, June 3, 2012

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