In a first-of-its kind amicus brief, a group of Ohio law enforcement officers and departments and affiliated organizations have urged the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 6th Circuit to end laws that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Ohio as well as Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The 6th Circuit will hear arguments in those cases in Cincinnati on August 6, 2014. These law enforcement officers are standing up to voice their support for gay and lesbian first responders because they put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe every day—but are denied the basic right to marriage afforded to their colleagues.

Ohio Law Enforcement Officials Speaking Out

Former Ohio Attorney General James M. “Jim” Petro

“Every day, gay and lesbian law enforcement officers at every level work tirelessly to protect us and defend the laws of our nation. They deserve the right to be treated equally under the law and enjoy the respect and recognition that marriage brings.”

Chief Kim Jacobs of the Columbus Division of Police

“Marriage is a civil right in this country and carries with it benefits that should be available to all law enforcement personnel, perhaps especially so since they are the defenders of the rights of others. Law enforcement officers in committed, same-sex relationships should be afforded the same dignity, respect and rights through marriage that other personnel are granted. Handling those relationships with fairness and impartiality demonstrates that we value these officers and all they contribute to making our communities safe.”

Chief Richard Biehl of the Dayton Police Department

“As police chief, it’s my job to support all of the dedicated officers who serve the city of Dayton. They put themselves in harm’s way to protect the safety of our citizens, and their families make sacrifices to allow them to their jobs. The fact that some of my officers and their families don’t have the same rights and protections as their colleagues is simply wrong. Marriage is a fundamental right that should be afforded to everyone.”

Law Enforcement Amicus Brief Excerpts

“When our men and women in uniform finish a long day’s work – be they straight or gay – they should have the right to come home to their spouse. They should know that the state they serve and protect will honor their relationship, not strip away their dignity or force them to remain in fearful silence. But, most of all, our gay and lesbian public safety officers deserve the peace of mind of knowing that, after the bagpipe has wailed its last somber note and the flag has been folded, the loved ones they have left behind will be provided for.”

“Denying first responders in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee the right to marry a person of the same sex is another form of discrimination, which results in these men and women being treated as “second class,” rather than affording them the full measure of dignity and respect that they deserve.”

“The states’ refusal to treat all citizens with dignity and respect also makes it more difficult for gay and lesbian officers to live openly and honestly. Closeted personnel who fear being identified as gay or lesbian are unlikely to come forward to complain about problems, especially because they are uncertain how supervisors may respond.”

“The work we ask our law enforcement officers to do to protect our communities is dangerous… Appreciating the dangers of the job, the federal government and states have implemented various benefit programs to provide first responders and their families the peace of mind of knowing that they will be taken care of if something happens to them in the line of duty. But state law in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee deny these protections to the survivors of gay and lesbian fallen heroes, because it refuses to allow them to enter into or otherwise recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The denial of benefits is particularly harmful and discriminatory to the families of gay and lesbian law enforcement officers, who, again, are asked every day to take the same risks and make the same sacrifices as their straight colleagues.”

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