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Federal Judge says he will declare Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Ann Thompson

Update: Federal Judge Timothy Black says he will issue a ruling by April 14 striking down a portion of Ohio's gay marriage ban passed by voters in 2004. Attorney Al Gerhardstein, representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit about birth certificates, amended his request to ask Black to declare all aspects of Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. (except the part about getting married in Ohio, because his clients were already married) In federal court Friday morning, the judge said he would do that.

The ruling will only apply to the marriage recognition ban. The lawsuit did not seek to allow same-sex partners to get married in Ohio, just the recognition of marriages from other states.

Gerhardstein reiterated, "This case will not say that people have a right to be married to same-sex partners in Ohio, but the precedent is getting stronger and stronger to the point where maybe that relief will come next."

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told WVXU that he is not surprised by Black’s ruling; and will appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He said, “We felt based on his preliminary rulings that something like this would happen; and, that’s fine, we will take it up to the Sixth Circuit.”

DeWine said that, ultimately, this case or a similar case from another state will make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. “And that’s where it could ultimately be decided,’’ DeWine said.

DeWine called Black’s ruling “one more step in the process.”

When Black said how he would rule in the case, some of the plaintiffs were brought to tears, including Jim Obergefell. It was Judge Black who ruled in his case, allowing his name on the death certificate of his spouse.


Three Cincinnati lesbian couples will this morning try to force Ohio to recognize their out-of-state marriages, by demanding the state put their names on the birth certificates of their children. Their babies are due in June at Cincinnati hospitals.

Plaintiffs also include a same-sex couple married and living in New York. They adopted a baby born in Ohio and want an order requiring Ohio to honor their New York adoption decree by placing both of their names on their son's birth certificate.

Attorney Al Gerhardstein says, "Last year the federal court ordered Ohio recognizes the out-of-state marriages on death certificates. Now it is time to recognize these marriages on birth certificates."

Co-counsel Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal, says, "Ohio's refusal to recognize out-of-state marriages has led to countless families, like our plaintiffs, being put in the vulnerable and humiliating position of having to choose who is named as a parent on a critical document."

WVXU reported on this story when the lawsuit was filed in February.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office says it will not issue a comment.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.