Federal Judge to Rule Ohio’s Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A federal judge in Cincinnati last week announced plans to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge in Cincinnati last week announced plans to overturn Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The ruling will not legalize same-sex marriage in Ohio but deems unconstitutional the state’s gay marriage ban and refusal to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. 

“My declaration will provide further that denying full faith and credit to decrees of adoption duly obtained by same-sex couples lawfully in sister jurisdictions, including for purposes of reissuing accurate new birth certificates for Ohio-born adopted children, violates the full faith and credit clause,” Black said.

The announcement followed closing arguments in a case brought forward by four same-sex couples married in other states. Each couple says Ohio won’t recognize both parents’ names on their children’s birth certificates. The lawsuit — and Black — cited a Jan. 17 ruling in favor of John Arthur and his partner Jim Obergefell that forced Ohio to recognize their out-of-state same-sex marriage on Arthur’s death certificate. Arthur died Oct. 10, 2013 of neurodegenerative disease.

“The court has spoken in Obergefell, and the issues presented here are reminiscent of that case,” Black said. “First it was death certificates and now it’s birth certificates.”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine appealed the Obergefell ruling and has stated his intention to appeal the latest as well. David Pepper, who is running against DeWine this year, took to Twitter to voice his exception to an appeal.

“While Ohio faces a heroin crisis, foreclosure crisis & other challenges, our Atty Gen’l wastes time & money fighting losing social crusades,” he wrote April 4.

Alphonse Gerhardstein, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, says many state attorney generals have chosen not to defend such discriminatory practices but that ultimately it will be up to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to set things straight.

“Think about what we’re trying to do,” Gerhardstein says. “We’re trying to get people who have children to say, ‘Please recognize me, the second parent, as a parent. Please call me if my kid is truant. Impose child support on me if we break up and I’m not carrying my weight. Call me if my kid isn’t immunized when he goes to school.’

“All the things we’re looking to parents to do, these folks are volunteering for it. Why is the state fighting this?”

The lawsuit states that prior to January of 2011, when Gov. John Kasich, DeWine and Director of Ohio Department of Health Theodore E. Wymyslo took office, Ohio had recognized same-sex married couples on adopted children’s birth certificates.

“There is no legitimate state interest to support this change in policy,” the lawsuit states.

Black will issue his ruling April 14.

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