Proudly stepping out into the community...

Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 17:03:42 -0400
From: "Robin L. Parker"
Subject: Re: Civil Union Benefits?
To: Gary Hunter , "Robert B. Blair"

Rob and Gary,

I will try to respond to your question.As you probably already know, Miami has said that it will provide domestic partner benefits when the laws of the State of Ohio afford legal status to same gender unions (marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions). To date this has not happened. I will attempt to elaborate further.

First, a state's law does not have extra-territorial effect (e.g., although medical use of marijuana is permitted in some states it is not permitted in others). Therefore, a couple who joins in a civil union in Vermont has certain rights under Vermont law. That does not mean those same rights must be afforded to them by other states.Ohio has no law permitting same gender unions. Ohio's marriage statute only permits unions between persons of opposite genders.

Second, under the United States Constitution , Article IV, Section 1, each state's public acts, records, and judicial proceedings are entitled to full faith and credit in every other state. So for example if you are married inKentucky, Ohio will recognize you as married (e.g., give full faith and credit to a Kentucky marriage)and if you reside in Ohio for at least 6 months preceding the filing of a complaint for divorce you can get divorced under Ohio law.The issue as I see it is, will Ohio recognize a Vermont civil union and if so, for what purposes.

Third, there is a public policy exception to the full faith and credit requirement of the Constitution. That is, if the law of another state violates your state's public policy you do not have to give it full faith and credit. As I understand it there is a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly (Senate Bill 240) which if passed would provide that it was against the public policy of Ohio to accept same gender unions.

So, the upshot of all this is I do not know whether Ohio will afford full faith and credit to Vermont civil unions or for what purposes. I suspect it will be some time before these issues are resolved as the law generally tends to be a very slow process. If the issues are resolved by litigation it can take several years to reach a final decision.

Robin Parker