Supreme Court ruling fuels fight for marriage equality among Cleveland's gay and lesbian community

CLEVELAND - Scott Swaggerty and his life partner, Scott Smith, were overjoyed by the U.S. Supreme Court rulings on Wednesday striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

"The Supreme Court ruled on behalf of equal rights among Americans is basically what it boils down to," Swaggerty said.
 
"It means that if I live in California, if I have a loving partner, committed partner and I have children and we love each other even in Ohio, I can file my federal taxes jointly with my partner," said Phyllis Harris, spokeswoman for the Lesbian and Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland.

Harris said although 13 states recognize same sex marriage, there have been no federally mandated rights to support the unions.

"There's like over 3,000 safety net protections that a heterosexual couple can have once they get married that LGBT people could not have, were exempted from."

Swaggerty and Smith have been together for 10 years. They were among hundreds of couples who got married during a mass wedding service in Cleveland last year, but they're not legally married in Ohio.

"Hey, in our eyes and in our family's eyes, we are a couple," he said. "Recently, he had to go to the hospital and it was very difficult for me to get into the hospital to the emergency room with him because they were like you're not family. A lot of people can't get things they need like power of attorney."

"I had to do it on my own," said Swaggerty's partner Scott Smith. "Nobody likes to go through things like that on their own."

Even with the uncertainty following Wednesday's ruling, the decision is giving same sex couples hope.
 
"In terms of the work that we have to do here, it really just gives us momentum toward getting full equality in Ohio," said Harris.

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