Conference examines Ohio marriage laws, LGBT rights

CONTACT: Ken Brown – 614-487-4426; 614-746-2457;
Columbus, Ohio (April 22, 2014) – What does Ohio law say about who should marry? The May 9 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) Diversity and Inclusion Conference, co-sponsored by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) and the Columbus Bar Association, explores LGBT issues and the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on family structure and on workplace, immigration, estate planning and tax matters in Ohio. The conference, to be held at OSBA headquarters in Columbus, is especially timely, following on the heels of an opinion recently published by the Southern District of Ohio, which held that discriminating against same-sex couples lawfully married in other states is unconstitutional.
The day-long conference opens with an overview of state and national developments by Columbus attorney Elyzabeth Holford of Equality Ohio. Jennifer L. Branch of Gerhardstein & Branch in Cincinnati, who represents plaintiffs discriminated against on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation and disability in both private and public employment arenas, follows with an explanation of “Why Marriage Matters.” A session called “Watch Your &#*#!@ Mouth” addresses the difficulty of discussing LGBT issues. Panelists include attorney Paul J. Unger of Affinity Consulting Group in Columbus and Lori Lorenzo, deputy director of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity in Washington, D.C.
Columbus attorney Merisa K. Bowers facilitates a session titled “Trans in the Workplace,” featuring Rashida Davison, a TransOhio board member; Columbus attorney Raphael Davis-Williams; Christine Swies, vice president of Human Relations for J.P. Morgan Chase; Akron attorney and TransOhio board member James Knapp; and Mason Caminiti of Columbus.
Afternoon breakout sessions provide updates on DOMA as it applies to the family, immigration, employment, estate and tax planning issues. A session titled “Emerging Issues in the New Family Structure” features Columbus-area attorneys Lee Ann Massucci, Carol Ann Fey and Thomas Addesa. Columbus attorneys L. Robert Thaxton and Inna Simakovsky discuss immigration aspects of DOMA, and Paul Bittner and Terrence Wheeler form a panel to discuss employment matters impacted by DOMA.  Columbus attorney Scot Dewhirst leads a discussion about DOMA-related estate planning and tax issues.
Ohio lawyers are invited to register for this continuing legal education (CLE) conference (6.25 CLE hours; 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.), and members of the media are welcome to cover the events. Pre-registration cost is $240 for OSBA members and $300 for nonmembers. Walk-in registration cost is $265 for members and $325 for nonmembers. Government attorney cost is $204 for members and $255 for nonmembers. Three or more attorneys or office submitting registrations at the same time receive $25 off each registration, and non-attorney professionals may attend at the OSBA member rate.
The Ohio State Bar Association, founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000 members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law students. Through its activities and the activities of its related organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice.



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