Couple Welcomes Judge’s Strike on Gay Marriage Ban

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CLEVELAND -- Brandon Sitler and his partner Jeff Zelmer own the Urban Orchid in Ohio City.

"Brandon and I met 11 years ago, so we've been dating for 10 years and we just recently got engaged in London," said Zelmer.

But their wedding plans are on pause because it's not legal here in the state of Ohio. However, news that a federal judge plans to strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage is music to their ears.

"It's something that you hope for and when it happens, it's a shock. I think it's a great thing. It’s happening to all the states around the Great Lakes area and that was my hope that it would happen in enough time for us to get married," added Sitler.

Friday's decision does not mean gay marriage will be legal in the Buckeye State, however, it forces the state to recognize the marriages of gay couples who were legally wed in another state.

"Twenty years ago when I first came out as a gay man, it was never in my realm of possibility that gay marriage would be legal.  And now, in that short period of time, look at the progress that's been made," said Zelmer.

According to Cindy Yu with the LGBT, the ban violates constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

"This is a big step for the state of Ohio. We've been working really hard to overturn this marriage ban that has been with us for 10 years, this is really big news," said Yu.

Attorneys for the state had argued that it's Ohio's right to define marriage as between a man and a woman, but for Brandon and Jeff, this is an important step toward their wedding day.

"It's very emotional for me because when you do stand up there with your significant other, you are proclaiming how much you love that person. And if you can't do that with the person that you love in the city that you love, it almost feels like it isn't real," said Sitler.

The judge's official ruling is set aside until April 14, which will allow time for any appeals to be filed once his decision becomes legal.

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