Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Recognize Legal Gay Marriages, New Jersey Nursing Home Under Fire for Male Strippers

Another federal court struck down a state law against gay marriage this week, this time in Ohio.  Federal Judge Timothy Black found unconstitutional an Ohio law that does not extend marital benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married elsewhere in the country, providing yet another judicial decision that chips away at laws targeting gay marriage.  Elsewhere, a New Jersey nursing facility faces a lawsuit by one of its residents over a male stripper performance, and the widely popular Asian hot sauce, Sriracha, faces production threats due to public nuisance law. 

Ohio Must Recognize Legal Same-Sex Marriages

A federal judge in Cincinnati has issued an order that the state of Ohio formally recognize same-sex marriages that are conducted in other states.  Calling the state’s marriage recognition bans “facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black’s decision opened the door for same-sex couples to enjoy the marital benefits afforded to every married couple in Ohio.  Although Ohio law still prevents gay marriages from being conducted in the state, Judge Black’s ruling prevents Ohio from terminating the legal status of same-sex marriages recognized elsewhere. 

In 2004, Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that recognized marriage as the union between one man and one women, giving rise to the law that prevents same-sex couples married in other states from receiving marital benefits.  State attorney general, Mike DeWine, argued that the ruling denies Ohio the sovereign right to right to ban gay marriage, and has announced that he plans to appeal the ruling.  Judge Black has not yet decided whether or not to put a stay on his ruling pending the appeal, but if his order takes effect same-sex couples legally married elsewhere will be able to obtain benefits immediately.

Judge Black based his ruling on the constitutional protection afforded the privacy of marital and family relations that has been established by the Supreme Court, and his decision is another in a growing line of recent cases that find bans on same-sex marriage unenforceable.  Gay marriage cases across the country have overwhelmingly disfavored exclusionary laws that ban same-sex unions, and with the growing number of challenges to individual state laws, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will need to make a final decision settling the matter once and for all.

Lawsuit Alleges Male Strippers Caused Nursing Home Resident Emotional Distress

Eighty-five year old Bernice Youngblood has filed a lawsuit against the East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for emotional distress and humiliation caused by the performance of a male stripper hired by the facility’s staff.  Youngblood, a resident of East Neck, saw her experience go viral this week when a picture of her putting cash into the nearly-naked stripper’s underwear hit the internet.  Her son, Franklin, found the photo while visiting, and promptly filed the lawsuit alleging she was “not able to make knowing, coherent, or voluntary decisions while the scene in the photograph occurred.”

The East Neck staff have responded to the allegations by claiming that the residents pooled their own money to hire the male strippers, and Ms. Youngblood’s participation was consensual.  Claiming that Ms. Youngblood and others “welcomed” the show and “had a good time,” the nursing home is prepared to defend itself against the lawsuit.  Nursing homes have come under increased scrutiny due to laws designed to protect elderly residents from malpractice, and the Youngblood lawsuit has also piqued the interest of New Jersey’s Attorney General, which will also take a look at the case. 

Sriracha Plant Declared Public Nuisance

Popular Asian condiment Sriracha hot sauce has developed a fanatical following across the United States, but last week faced a challenge from its neighbors due to the odor emitted during manufacturing.  Huy Fong Foods, maker of Sriracha, has already been sued by the city of Irwindale, CA for producing an odor so offensive that it burns the eyes and throats of local residents, and recently the City Council took additional action by unanimously voting to declare the factory to be a public nuisance.  In the wake of the Council’s decision, Huy Fong has 90 days to mitigate the odor or else the plant will be forced to cease production.

Huy Fong has promised to work with air quality officials to mitigate the smell emitted during Sriracha production, and fans of the sauce should be relieved to know that the company has enough of the condiment in storage to continue distribution during a temporary shutdown.  The development of public nuisance law has given residents more control over the negative externalities created by production facilities, and Huy Fong, despite Sriracha’s immense popularity, faces serious legal consequences if it does not make the effort to be a more considerate neighbor.

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