HUNTING VALLEY, Ohio -- A ban on same-sex marriage passed by Ohio voters a decade ago is on the line in arguments before federal appeals court judges in Cincinnati.
Two Ohio cases involving marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples are among six cases from four states scheduled Wednesday before a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
One involves two gay men whose spouses were dying. They sued to be listed as surviving spouses on their husbands' death certificates and for their spouses to be listed as having been married.
In the other, four couples sued to have both spouses listed on children's birth certificates. Attorney General Mike DeWine says voters decided in 2004 that marriage is between a man and a woman, and he'll continue to defend that decision.
Now, for the first time since that decision, Ohioans are seeing ads promoting gay marriage.
Henry Hawley and George Vassos are pretty well known in their communities.
Hawley is the former Cleveland Museum of Art curator and Vassos is a former Cleveland Institute of Music instructor. Even though they are both retired, they now have more eyes on them than ever before.
"I can't imagine my life without Henry," said Vassos in the ad from "Why Marriage Matters Ohio."
"There aren't too many people who have 50 years together," said Hawley in the ad.
It has been on the airwaves all week in an attempt to sway viewers to agree with gay marriage in Ohio.
The couple chosen for the ad are from Hunting Valley.
"We celebrated 50 years in October and that's when I said to Henry, 'we should be married,'" said Vassos. "I believe God loves us all. There is no discrimination."
"I hope not," added Hawley.
They tied the knot on their 50th anniversary last October.
"It's up-and-down," said Vassos. "You have your highs and lows and you don't always agree and we know that's true and you have to adjust."
They traveled to New York because they couldn't legally get married in Ohio.
"Everyone should have the same rights. You shouldn't be discriminated on no matter what because in America we are supposed to be free," said Vassos. "It's too bad the religious rights are against it."
Now they are hoping to change some of those minds.
"Today, we're really fortunate that the country is turning around: 19 states so far, and hopefully Ohio will be next," said Vassos.
Their message is definitely getting out. The ad is scheduled to air throughout the state from July 30 to Aug. 6, 2014.
"Somebody called me and said 'you're on TV' and I didn't think it was going to go everywhere in the country. I thought it was just a small thing," said Vassos.
There is no word on how much money "Why Marriage Matters Ohio" spent but the group says, if Ohio's ban on gay marriage isn't struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court soon, the group will look at a 2016 statewide ballot effort to overturn it.
Follow WKYC's Walé Aliyu on Twitter: @WaleAliyu