Bowling Green’s U.S. Rep. Bob Latta is among a group of Republicans trying to advance a Constitutional
ban on same-sex marriage.
The contingent of 30 conservatives co-signed a Constitutional amendment in February that would limit
marriage to heterosexual couples and pre-empt any state constitutions that say otherwise. If approved by
two-thirds of Congress, the amendment would need to be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures.
Courts have already struck down some states’ bans on same-sex marriage and will consider this summer
whether the U.S. Constitution preserves the right for such marriages to be recognized across the
Justices will have the power to essentially allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states or overturn previous
court rulings that have expanded the availability of marriage to gay people. Arguments are to be heard
in April, with a decision likely to be announced in June.
In 2013 the court ruled as unconstitutional part of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal
benefits to legally married, same-sex couples.
A spokesperson for Latta said he would not be available to discuss the bill and provided a statement
similar to one that has appeared in other media.
“I firmly believe the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. At a time when
the definition of marriage is being argued in the courts, it’s the responsibility of Congress to take
action and restore a clear marriage policy at a national level. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the
Marriage Protection Amendment to affirm that marriage should remain defined as a union of one man and
Conversely, another bill supported by Latta and other Republicans, the State Marriage Defense Act of
2015, appears to back states’ wishes to define marriage on their own.
With support for marriage equality continuing to grow stronger among Americans, local party leaders both
suspected the amendment would have trouble gaining traction.
“I think it would be a tough thing to get approved, based on where all the states are,” said Matt Reger,
chairman of the Wood County Republican Party. “If you look at it, there are 38 states that have
recognized gay marriage. I would say it might have a hard time becoming a Constitutional amendment.”
Reger said there’s a wide range of feelings about the definition of marriage among Republicans, and the
local party does not take an official position on issues.
On the other side of the aisle, Wood County Democratic chair Mike Zickar also doubted the measure would
advance, adding criticism of the amendment put forth by Latta and other Republicans in Congress.
“I really do feel like (Latta) has this view of marriage that’s very exclusionary, so I don’t know if
he’s pandering to his base or if this is his true belief,” Zickar said. “I guess I can’t really figure
out what his motives are on this.”
Zickar echoed the view expressed by the American Civil Liberties Union that passing the amendment would
essentially mean “writing discrimination into the Constitution.”
“It’s very contrary to the Republican philosophy of letting people have their own individual freedoms.
He’s basically saying … that his particular viewpoint should be imposed on all states in the nation,”
Zickar said of Latta. “I just find that really frustrating.”
When Ohioans approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2004 that similarly limited marriage to
the union of one man and one woman, Wood County was among those with a majority of its citizens voting
in favor. Zickar said he doubts that would still be the case today.
“People’s attitudes have changed so dramatically since then. In Wood County, I’m confident if that if
marriage equality was on the ballot, a majority would support the right for everybody to marry.
“The U.S. Constitution has been based on a history of expanding people’s rights over the years, and this
would be a really big reversal to start restricting people’s rights in our Constitution.”