Two same-sex marriage licenses have been issued so far in Highland County, and a recent same-sex domestic violence case in Hillsboro Municipal Court last week may have been the first felony case of its nature in Ohio.
Meanwhile, another byproduct of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month making gay marriage legal in all 50 states is that same-sex couples are beginning to file for divorces in Ohio, although no such case has yet been filed in Highland County.
According to officials at Highland County Probate Court, the first same-sex marriage license was issued on July 6, and another was issued July 17.
In Hillsboro Municipal Court last week, Courtney J. Groves, 25, Washington Court House, appeared on charges of third-degree domestic violence and first-degree misdemeanor assault. At the time, an agency official told The Times-Gazette that the case represented the first domestic violence case involving a married same-sex couple.
The domestic violence case centered around a couple involved in a marriage that was performed just a few days earlier by Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna, who also presided over the domestic violence case.
McKenna said Monday that he performed the marriage because “I’ve sworn an oath” to uphold the Constitution and a majority of justices on the Supreme Court determined that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.
“Under their interpretation, there’s a duty” to perform the marriages, said McKenna, adding “The license was properly issued in Judge (Kevin) Greer’s court.”
McKenna said the domestic violence case is likely the first felony case in Ohio involving a same-sex married couple. He said other domestic violence cases in the past have involved same-sex couples, but not married couples, since gay marriage was previously illegal in Ohio.
The judge said during Thursday’s hearing that Groves has a history of domestic violence in the municipal court. Her bond was set at $5,000.
Ike Hodson, Highland County clerk of courts, said Monday he had attended a recent meeting where other county clerks had mentioned that petitions for same-sex divorce have begun to be filed around the state.
In fact, a report filed Thursday by WOUB in Athens noted that a woman in a same-sex marriage whose divorce petition was previously rejected has filed for divorce again in Athens County.
The station reported that according to records from Athens County Court, Brenda Mohney, of Athens,and Erin O’Leary, of Rockbridge, refiled for divorce on Tuesday, July 14.
“In December 2014, the couple was granted a divorce, which was promptly reversed by Judge George McCarthy, because he did not recognize that he was granting it to a same sex couple,” according to the report. “He said that he felt required to undo the divorce because of Ohio’s then-ban on same sex marriage.”
Mohney and O’Leary were first married in California in 2008, the station reported.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.