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Attorney general challenges arguments that Ohio should recognize gay marriage in appeals case

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CINCINNATI — The Ohio Attorney General's Office urged a federal appeals court to reject arguments that the state should have to recognize gay marriage, saying the decision should be left to voters.

The arguments, filed Tuesday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, are a preview of what's to come on Aug. 6, when a three-judge panel of the court will hear oral arguments in five gay marriage cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Attorneys for the same-sex couples argue that their clients have a constitutional right to marry, and courts have a duty to affirm that right — even in the face of the majority of voters.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has vowed to uphold the state's gay marriage ban, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2004.

In Tuesday's filing, DeWine argues that the same-sex couples who sued to force Ohio to recognize gay marriage have "an expansive view of the judiciary's role to reshape society."

"Ohio and its citizens respectfully disagree, and urge this court to respect its limited role within our democracy and judicial hierarchy," his filing said. "It should direct plaintiffs to the proper road for the change they seek — the democratic road."

Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies in the four states filed a friend-of-the-court brief, urging the 6th Circuit to strike down statewide bans on gay marriage. The brief, also filed Tuesday, argues that gay and lesbian first responders risk their lives on a daily basis, "but Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee deny these men and women the equal dignity they deserve."

Among those who joined in supporting the brief are former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs and Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl.

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