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Court: Gay marriage law unconstitutional

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012 @ 11:22 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 31, 2012 @ 11:22 AM

A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman discriminates against gay couples because it doesn't give them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

The court didn't rule on the law's other politically combustible provision, which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it's legal. It also wasn't asked to address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The law was passed at a time when it appeared Hawaii would legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

The 1st Circuit said its ruling wouldn't be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the case, meaning that same-sex married couples will not be eligible to receive the economic benefits denied by DOMA until the high court rules.

That's because the ruling only applies to states within the circuit, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico. Only the Supreme Court has the final say in deciding whether a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional.

During arguments before the court last month, a lawyer for gay married couples said the law amounts to "across-the-board disrespect." The couples argued that the power to define and regulate marriage had been left to the states for more than 200 years before Congress passed DOMA.

An attorney defending the law argued that Congress had a rational basis for passing it in 1996, when opponents worried that states would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. The group said Congress wanted to preserve a traditional and uniform definition of marriage and has the power to define terms used to federal statutes to distribute federal benefits.

Since DOMA was passed in 1996, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maryland, Washington state and the District of Columbia. Maryland and Washington's laws are not yet in effect and may be subject to referendums.

Last year, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. Department of Justice would no longer defend the constitutionality of the law. After that, House Speaker John Boehner convened the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend it.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston-based legal group that brought one of the lawsuits on behalf of gay married couples, said the court agreed with the couples that it is unconstitutional because it takes one group of legally married people and treats them as "a different class" by making them ineligible for benefits given to other married couples.

"We've been working on this issue for so many years, and for the court to acknowledge that yes, same-sex couples are legally married, just as any other couple, is fantastic and extraordinary," said Lee Swislow, GLAD's executive director.

Husted bucks GOP, is against voter photo ID push

Published: Friday, April 08, 2011 @ 6:11 AM
Updated: Friday, April 08, 2011 @ 6:11 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The official who oversees Ohio's elections says he doesn't agree with a measure proposed by some fellow Republicans to require voters to show photo IDs at the polls.   

Secretary of State John Husted tells The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday that he would not change current policy that allows voters to prove their identities with photo IDs or other documents, such as utility bills or paychecks.   

A bill approved by the Ohio House would require voters to show the photo ID before casting an in-person ballot. It is now being reviewed by the Senate.   

Husted instead proposes changes for voters casting early ballots or provisional ballots. He says those voters should be required to give their full Social Security numbers instead of the currently required last four digits.

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Crash victim lived to fly, friend says

Published: Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 8:16 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 8:16 AM

A 73-year-old Bellbook man killed in a plane crash Saturday morning was an experienced pilot who had built four planes like the “experimental aircraft” he flew that day, according to his wife.

Roger Flower died in the 8 a.m. crash, said Sgt. Anthony Pearcy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“Some witnesses in the area did see the plane flying and the witnesses believe they did see something fall off the plane,” he said.

Flying out of the Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport in Greene County, the plane flown by Flower crashed about 100 yards from a house at 1856 Ohio 380. Debris from the crash spread about 300 feet and the plane had extensive damage.

Flower was a naval aviator for 31 years who still loved to fly in his retirement, said Jan Flower, his wife of 50 years.

“It was his life, ” she said. “He was flying a plane that he had built and flew out of Greene County Airport and was there every day and loved it.”

After retiring from the Navy, he became a certified aviation engineer and began building his own aircraft, his wife said.

“He knew what he was doing about building it and just loved it and wasn’t ready to give up airplanes, so he built them,” she said.

Both natives of Ohio, Roger and Jan Flower have four sons and moved to Bellbrook eight years ago, when they were done traveling with the Navy.

She described her husband as “a leader, totally confident. (He) could tackle anything, could build or fix anything, loved his children and his grandchildren, (and) loved serving in his church.”

The OHSP is investigating the crash with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

The plane was a fixed wing, single engine, experimental/homemade aircraft, according to the patrol.

“According to the family members, it’s been flown before,” said Pearcy.

There was no flight plan filed for the plane and the destination of the flight was unknown, Pearcy said.

“As unfortunate as this incident is, it is fortunate that no other people were involved,” Pearcy said.

Arrest made in slaying of businessman

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 7:44 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 7:44 PM

Police have arrested a 20-year-old Dayton man in the slaying of a business owner found dead inside a burned out garage last week.

Anthony Lamar Stargell Jr. was arrested Wednesday morning and is in the Montgomery County Jail pending the filing of an unclassified felony murder charge.

Dayton Sgt. Dan Mauch said detectives believe Stargell shot and killed 54-year-old Tommy Nickles before setting a fire inside 838 S. Main St. on April 3.

“The fire did not do the damage that the perpetrator expected,” Mauch said Wednesday afternoon. He said evidence collected inside the business and from Nickles’ stolen work van helped lead detectives to Stargell. The van was recovered by police late April 3 in the 400 block of Leland Avenue.

A search warrant was executed at 2905 Oakridge Drive on Wednesday, where Stargell occasionally stays with family. He was taken into custody at about 11 a.m.

Nickles, of Kettering, died from multiple gunshot wounds and was found in a garage where he ran Quality One Electrical Service. A Golden retriever that had been shot to death also was found in the building, police said.

Nickles' family confirmed last week that he had been living in the building because of a recent divorce. They said they couldn’t fathom why someone would want to kill the father of two. 

“Tom was a good man, he was a good father,” said Gavin Whitt, Nickles’ godson.

Mauch said Stargell and Nickles knew each other. He said police are investigating robbery as a possible motive or that Nickles possibly owed Stargell money.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” he said. Police also are trying to locate several individuals who may have stolen property belonging to Nickles.

According to court records, Stargell was convicted of robbery in February 2011 and sentenced to five years’ probation.

His mother, Tonya Bailey, said her son recently got out of prison, but she doesn’t believe that he is responsible for Nickles’ death.

“I don’t think that he did do it, but if he did do it he didn’t do it by himself,” she said.

She said Stargell wasn’t on South Main Street on the night Nickles was killed. “He was here,” she said at her mother’s house on Wednesday.