Ohioans protest SB 5 to save unions, domestic partner benefits

Thousands of Ohioans descended upon Columbus Tuesday, to protest the union-busting Senate Bill 5.

Ohioans rally against S.B. 5 at the Statehouse. | Gendeara Faulker

The bill — similar to pending Wisconsin legislation that sparked pandemonium in Madison — aims to eliminate negotiating rights for teachers, firefighters, police, corrections officers and other state workers. The measure would also do away with binding arbitration, prevent strikes by public employees and require employees to pay 20 percent of the cost of their health care. Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign S.B. 5 if it is approved by the legislature.

Not only would S.B. 5 crush labor, as an added bonus, it would also eliminate domestic partner benefits extended to LGBT public workers, including school and university employees.

Sec. 3101.01 of S.B. 5 defines marriage as:

Male persons of the age of 18 years and female persons of the age of 16 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.

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.

This definition of marriage sets the stage for S.B. 5 to nullify all state employee benefits extended to non-married couples:

The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to non-marital 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 non-marital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void.

Protests started last week as 4,000 union employees packed preliminary hearings of the bill. Students and faculty gathered Monday at the University of Cincinnati, which won domestic partner benefits through collective bargaining, to show their outrage.

S.B. 5 is not a money-saving initiative; ousting unions and rescinding domestic partner benefits will not close the budget gap — it will only hurt Ohioans.

UPDATE: Columbus exploded yesterday when the Ohio Statehouse was closed to protesters. News sources estimate 5,000 to 20,000 people showed up to protest hearings on H.B. 5, but only 1,000 were allowed in the building. Rally organizers passed around fliers, urging the crowd to call Gov. Kasich and Senate President Tom Niehaus.

Kasich appeared on CNN Monday, to explain his position on the bill; he basically says everything he does is to better Ohio. Watch the interview below:

GOP lawmarkers have indicated S.B. 5 will likely be changed to allow workers to bargain for wages, but it would also prohibit all government employees from striking.

12 thoughts on “Ohioans protest SB 5 to save unions, domestic partner benefits

  1. Okay, let me begin by saying that I deplore SB 5. It’s objectionable in every way imaginable. I also want to say that I know that the Republicans have no interest in protecting the civil rights of LGBT people–including domestic partner benefits. However, I read the current version of SB 5 (as of yesterday) and it does something odd after the section you quote. It says:

    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

    This passage is also in Ohio’s DOMA, and it has been interpreted as meaning that the extension of domestic partner benefits is allowed under state law. Since this is all directly quoted from the DOMA and UC now has dpb, I am thinking that if passed SB 5 will not prohibit the continuation of dpb at public universities.

    Again, I hope that no one will interpret this as a defense of SB 5. It is NOT; I deplore the bill.

    • I’m not a lawyer, but I think the clause is referring to individual benefits, not domestic partner benefits. And the statue would bar the state from extending the benefits for married employees to non-married couples, like LGBT couples, because they cannot be legally married. But private employers can offer domestic partner benefits if they choose, but they cannot be forced to.

      My understanding of Ohio’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban is there is to be no marriage or anything that looks like marriage between same-sex partners recognized by the state of Ohio. I think the language in S.B. 5 follows this precedent.

      But these are complicated issues. Cleveland has a domestic partnership registry and many local governments in Ohio extend domestic partner benefits to employees. There is ligation against some of these pro-equality statues, claiming they are unconstitutional under Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban. Many of the rulings have been unclear and some cases are still tied up in court.

      Regardless, if S.B. 5 is enacted, lawsuits would be filed left and right, and it would ultimately be up to the courts to decide what the language means.

  2. When I read SB5 on the official state website, my understanding is that underlined text is the NEW text that would be added to ORC, and strike-through text is language that would be eliminated from ORC.
    That said, my understanding of 3101.01 is that (C)(3) is NOT new language proposed by SB5. The only thing that SB5 changes is that it strikes out the reference to 4117, which is the bulk of what is being neutered by SB5.
    My thought is that 3101 was *yes* that bad before SB5.
    Please correct if I am mistaken!

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  4. This is not new code. It already exists under Ohio law.

    The problem here is that people are misreading the bill. Here’s a quick primer:

    * Any underlined text is new language that would be added to existing law.
    * Any Strike-through text is language that would be removed from existing law.
    * Any regular text (not underlined or strike-through) is existing law

    That particular law has been in effect since 2004.

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  6. (4) Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any 6102
    other state, country, or other jurisdiction outside this state 6103
    that extends the specific benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital 6104
    relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes 6105
    shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal 6106
    force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this 6107
    state.

    this is a section that was left out of S.B 5 above and should be looked at because it currently violates the U.S. Constitution Article 4 section 1. which states that states will reconigize contracts made in one state be held up by another the following is the direct Qoute:

    “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” U.S. Constitution

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