Local gay residents said the Supreme Court ruling Wednesday on same-sex marriage is an important step toward them one day achieving “marriage equality.”
For about a decade, Dani Beale has referred to Bobbi Beale as her spouse.
But Dani Beale, 33, of Plain Township, has chosen to hold off referring to her partner as her wife — until the day they would legally get married.
“I’d like to use (the term ‘wife’) when that’s legally true,” said Dani Beale, a trainer for the insurer Progressive.
That day may be coming soon. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Without ruling whether state bans on same-sex marriage such as Ohio’s are unconstitutional, the court essentially allowed such marriages to resume in California.
Dani Beale said she changed her Facebook relationship status to “engaged” after hearing of the ruling.
She said it is now likely that she and Bobbi Beale, 50, will soon get married in a state that allows same-sex marriage in hopes of getting federal recognition of their union despite Ohio’s ban against gay marriages.
“It’s been a fantastic day,” said Dani Beale. “I’m feeling joy even though the journey’s not done yet.”
Henry Pabian, 61, and Jason Rawls, 46, of Plain Township, heard about the ruling before they were to depart to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in Toronto where they were married.
“I’m thinking the U.S. may catch up with the rest of the modernized world,” said Pabian, a real estate investor.
Rawls, a hospital nurse, said the ruling is “a big step.” But he still can’t get his husband on his employer’s health insurance plan. It’s not yet clear if couples like them who married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriages but now live in states that don’t recognize such unions can file a joint federal tax return or claim survivor Social Security benefits.
“It was like desegregation and all that stuff,” said Rawls. “It was good news. It didn’t get rid of racism. This ruling isn’t going to get rid of anti-gay feelings.”
Chris Kuhn, 29, of Jackson Township, the former president of the University of Akron’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Union, said the ruling “means when I find someone I fall in love with we can get married.”
Kuhn said public sentiment on gay marriage has changed since 11 years ago when as a Jackson High School student, he would hide his orientation with the help of female friends who posed as “cover girlfriends.” Later, he said he served in the Air Force under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy when revealing publicly that he was gay would have meant a dishonorable discharge.
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Dani Beale started dating Bobbi more than 10 years ago after they worked at Child & Adolescent and Behavioral Health in Canton.
After they moved in with each other, Bobbi proposed during a Caribbean cruise. They held a ceremony exchanging vows during a camping trip to Tennessee. Dani legally changed her last name to that of her new spouse.
“We are married,” Dani said. “The only thing is we don’t have a certificate that says so.”
Bobbi has a son, Jesse, now 16, from a prior relationship. More than two years ago, Dani gave birth to a son, Paxton, through artificial insemination.
“Both of our sons, we are their parents. They don’t make a distinction,” said Dani Beale.
Dani said she has named Bobbi as the person to get custody of Paxton if something were to happen to her. But under state law, any of Dani’s family members could try to block Bobbi from getting custody.
Dani says she got angry when they received their Social Security statements because they couldn’t claim each other as beneficiaries.
“Straight people can just go to a courthouse and get married and just no questions asked,” said Dani Beale. “We don’t have that option (in Ohio) and it’s just ridiculous. Our relationship has survived a lot longer than some straight marriages that I know. ... when I receive that piece of paper, it means something to me, that I’m a citizen just as much as other people.”
Reach Robert at 330-580-8327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @rwangREP