Federal Judge Strikes Down Ohio's Marriage Recognition Ban

By: Sunnivie Brydum
4.14.2014

A federal judge in Ohio has ordered that the state must recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions, issuing a 45-page ruling that arrives at that conclusion, announced earlier this month. The ruling does include a stay, essentially placing the decision on hold while the state appeals. 

Federal District Magistrate Timothy Black's (pictured above) ruling declares that Ohio's statutory ban on recognizing legal same-sex marriages performed in other states violates the U.S. Constitution. The ruling does not require Ohio to begin performing same-sex marriages. 

"The record before the court, which includes the judicially-noticed record in Obergefell, is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and, therefore, Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black writes, according to the Washington Blade.

The case before the court, Henry v. Himes, related only to the recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as it was filed by same-sex couples who are legally married in other states who wish to be jointly listed on their children's birth certificates. 

Judge Black first indicated that he would deliver such a ruling on April 4, reportedly to give the state time to prepare its motions for a stay and appeal. 

This is the second pro-equality ruling from judge Black, who determined last summer in Obergefell v. Kasich, that the state must recognize a terminally ill man's husband as the surviving spouse on his death certificate. John Arthur and Jim Obergefell made headlines last summer when they married onboard a specially equipped plane on the tarmac of Maryland's Baltimore-Washington International Airport, since they could not marry in their home state. Arthur succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, last October.

"Couples who are married should be treated as married no matter where they are in the country, including Ohio," said Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson in a statement. "Couples should not have to play 'now you're married, now you're not' as they travel, work, move, or return home. This is a good day for families and businesses in Ohio, and a good day for the Constitution and America."

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