COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Same-sex and interracial marriage would be legally protected if a new Ohio bill is signed into law, while an existing constitutional provision could still be a burden for some couples.

The Marriage Equality Act is being introduced to remove Ohio Revised Code language adopted in 2004 that states “a marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman.” Advocates argue the act is needed given the Supreme Court has hinted at reconsidering Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage, following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

“It is time for Ohio to choose love instead of hate. Ohioans deserve the right to publicly and legally commit to the person they love,” said Jim Obergefell, an activist and plaintiff of the Supreme Court case. “We deserve to live in a state where we can form, build, and sustain our families on an equal basis.”

Proposed by Reps. Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron), the legislation would be the first of two major steps in aligning Ohio law with the protections for couples set by Obergefell v. Hodges.

While a federal law signed in 2022, the Respect for Marriage Act, requires a state to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere, it does not offer all the same protections in place by Obergefell, especially in Ohio. Should the Supreme Court deem same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the law allows states to determine whether to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Along with language in the state’s revised code, Ohio is one of 25 states home to a constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage and would be reenacted if Obergefell were overturned. Ohio passed the amendment to the state’s constitution in 2004 that reads, “Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions.”

If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, the Respect for Marriage Act only requires Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages from states where it is legal. In addition, if by then Miranda’s and Galonski’s Marriage Equality Act is signed into law, Ohioans would still need to propose and pass another constitutional amendment to override the 2004 amendment.

Maria Bruno, Equality Ohio public policy director, said the Marriage Equality Act is a good first step to ensure the state’s statutory language no longer discriminates LGBTQ+ Ohioans by bringing the code into alignment with the Obergefell decision.

“Does [the bill] make the totality of Ohio’s marriage laws right? Sadly, no,” Bruno said. “So, while we must work in the future to remove this language from Ohio’s constitution altogether, in the meantime, we are proud to support this legislation to correct Ohio’s code.”

Bruno said it is “refreshing” to be advocating for legislation supporting the LGBTQ+ community, given an influx of anti-LGBTQ+ bills advancing through the Statehouse. In June, the Ohio House passed a bill banning trans athletes from participating in girls’ sports and prohibiting trans youth from receiving certain medical care.

The “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” also passed by the Ohio House, would require teachers to notify parents before teaching “sexuality content” and of any change in a student’s mental, emotional or physical health. Most recently, lawmakers proposed a bill to prohibit drag queen performances in public or where children are present.