COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s health director, whose refusal to list a gay man as the surviving spouse on a death certificate led to last week’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, has delivered a Bible reading at a gay wedding.
Thursday’s nuptials in Columbus came less than a week after the court legalized gay marriage in a case stemming from a lawsuit against health director Rick Hodges. The litigation began in Ohio but ultimately combined six lawsuits filed by 32 couples, widowers and children in four states that didn’t recognize gay marriage.
Hodges told the Northeast Ohio Media Group he’s been friends with one of the grooms, Steve George, for 25 years. George worked in Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration and represented the governor on the panel that oversees Ohio Statehouse operations.
The governor and first lady Karen Waldbillig Kasich also attended George’s wedding to Jeff Gatwood, as did several other top Republicans.
Kasich has said he believes marriage is between a man and woman, but after the high court’s decision he declared that the court’s ruling must be respected.
The marriage lawsuit bore Hodges’ name because he heads the Ohio Department of Health, which records vital statistics. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine defended Ohio’s 2004 gay marriage ban on behalf of the state.
Hodges said he saw no irony in being the defendant in a case against gay marriage one week and a reader at a same-sex wedding the next.
“I love my friend,” he said.
The passage from Mark Chapter 12 that he read involves Jesus being asked to identify the greatest commandment. Jesus answers that it is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these,” the passage reads.