I am not a fan of Ohio SB 5. I am not a fan of Ohio’s ban on same sex marriage and civil unions.  I am even less of a fan of people misunderstanding the changes to Section 3101 of the Ohio Revised Code proposed in SB 5. The misunderstanding is a great teachable moment on finding Ohio law and also making the case for why information literacy is necessary to have a functional democracy.

A fellow Ohio academic librarian I follow re-tweeted this on February 21:

S3101.01 OH S Bill 5: “A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman. ” How is that relevant to budget crisis?

I was a bit taken aback when I first read the tweet. I didn’t understand the connection between the “fiscal responsibility” line coming out of Columbus and its relationship to traditional marriage. I did what any good librarian would do and went looking for the source.

Here is the text of Chapter 3101.01.C (to be exact) as currently written in the Ohio Revised Code.

(C)(1) Any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state. Any marriage between persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state and, if attempted to be entered into in this state, is void ab initio and shall not be recognized by this state.

(2) Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.

(3) The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state. Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of this state, as defined in section 9.82 of the Revised Code, that extends the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void ab initio. Nothing in division (C)(3) of this section shall be construed to do either of the following:

(a) Prohibit the extension of specific benefits otherwise enjoyed by all persons, married or unmarried, to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes, including the extension of benefits conferred by any statute that is not expressly limited to married persons, which includes but is not limited to benefits available under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code;

(b) Affect the validity of private agreements that are otherwise valid under the laws of this state.

You may recall, that the people of Ohio voted to amend the Ohio Constitution on November 2, 2004 to define marriage to be between one man and one woman. The legislature codified the amendment into the Ohio Revised Code in Section 3101.01.

Now, back to the present.

Here is the proposed change to Section 3101.01 in Ohio SB 5 “As Pending in the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee”

Sec. 3101.01. (A) Male persons of the age of eighteen years, and female persons of the age of sixteen years, not nearer of kin than second cousins, and not having a husband or wife living, may be joined in marriage. A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman. A minor shall first obtain the consent of the minor’s parents, surviving parent, parent who is designated the residential parent and legal custodian of the minor by a court of competent jurisdiction, guardian, or any one of the following who has been awarded permanent custody of the minor by a court exercising juvenile jurisdiction:

(1) An adult person;

(2) The department of job and family services or any child welfare organization certified by the department;

(3) A public children services agency.

(B) For the purposes of division (A) of this section, a minor shall not be required to obtain the consent of a parent who resides in a foreign country, has neglected or abandoned the minor for a period of one year or longer immediately preceding the minor’s application for a marriage license, has been adjudged incompetent, is an inmate of a state mental or correctional institution, has been permanently deprived of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor and the right to have the minor live with the parent and to be the legal custodian of the minor by a court exercising juvenile jurisdiction, or has been deprived of parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the minor and the right to have the minor live with the parent and to be the legal custodian of the minor by the appointment of a guardian of the person of the minor by the probate court or by another court of competent jurisdiction.

(C)(1) Any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state. Any marriage between persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state and, if attempted to be entered into in this state, is void ab initio and shall not be recognized by this state.

(2) Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.

(3) The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state. Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of this state, as defined in section 9.82 of the Revised Code, that extends the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void ab initio. Nothing in division (C)(3) of this section shall be construed to do either of the following:

(a) Prohibit the extension of specific benefits otherwise enjoyed by all persons, married or unmarried, to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes, including the extension of benefits conferred by any statute that is not expressly limited to married persons, which includes but is not limited to benefits available under Chapter 4117. of the Revised Code;

(b) Affect the validity of private agreements that are otherwise valid under the laws of this state.

(4) Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state, country, or other jurisdiction outside this state that extends the specific benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state.

As you probably noticed, the lines with strike through text is the part being changed.

Andrew Sullivan posted early this evening Just Balancing the Budget. He picked up on the  “no same-sex marriage” part of Ohio SB 5 and asking what that has to do with financial reform. (I wrote him a shorter version of what I am writing here and he has since updated his post.) I did some searching and found other blogs asking the same question.  As you have probably figure out by now, there isn’t any relationship.

The proposed text to be removed in SB 5 relates to Chapter 4117 mentioned in  Section 3101.01. Chapter 4117 is the section of the Ohio Revised Code defining public employees collective bargaining. Public employee collective bargaining is what SB 5 is supposedly reforming.

Long story short…SB 5 does not insert any ban on same sex marriage or civil unions into the Ohio Revised Code. The wording that some people are jumping on has been in place for over six years. The reference to Section 3101.01 removes a reference to another section which is being overhauled.

What I find most interesting is that I don’t see any mention of Section 3101.01 in the final bill as passed by the Senate this afternoon.

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3 thoughts on “Information literacy and Ohio SB 5 Section 3101.01

  • March 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm
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    Perhaps the plan to put a ban on same-sex marriage in every bill they write, just to make sure people know they are serious. “We mean it. We really mean it! We really really mean it!”

  • March 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm
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    That must be the plan. People tend to catch on when you repeat a simple message multiple times.

  • March 8, 2011 at 12:26 am
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    I posted about this section on the Dispatch website. I could have sworn I copy pasted it from the state legislature website version shown as “as passed”, yet I too have noticed it’s gone now.

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