Federal Judge Issues Narrow Ruling Against Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban
Judge Timothy Black has ruled that Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but his ruling applies only to death certificates, the AP reports:
In his decision Monday, Judge Timothy Black orders state officials to recognize such unions on death certificates. Although his ruling applies narrowly, his statements about Ohio's gay-marriage ban are sweeping and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
In his lengthy decision, the Cincinnati-based judge says that "once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away."
He says the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right to remain married as a fundamental liberty.
The ruling was made on a case brought by John Arthur and Jim Obergfell. You may recall that they flew to Maryland earlier this year so they could marry on the airport tarmac before Arthur's ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe, became too difficult. The couple filed the lawsuit after they married.
Arthur died in October.
Chris Geidner explains the narrow ruling:
Black explained that the case was not about marriage, but rather about “the right to remain married”:
The right to remain married is therefore properly recognized as one that is a fundamental liberty interest appropriately protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Here, Ohio’s marriage recognition bans violate this fundamental right without rational justification.
In explaining the narrow scope of the case — which only sought a ruling regarding the treatment of death certificates in light of Ohio’s constitutional amendment and statute banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages — Black wrote:
The Court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages, if valid in the state performed, and even if not authorized nor validly performed under Ohio law, such as marriages between first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages. That is, once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.
Read the decision, AFTER THE JUMP...