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Ohio must recognize same-gender marriages performed in other states

Following the lead of 10 other federal judges, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black ruled on April 14, 2014 in the case of Henry v. Himes, 14-cv-00129, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio (Cincinnati) that Ohio must recognize same-gender marriages performed in other states where these marriages are legal. Judge Black had ruled previously that same-gender marriages must be recognized on death certificates issued in Ohio.

Rights of offspring of same-gender couples
Rights of offspring of same-gender couples
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

While the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) has declined to rule that same-gender marriages have the same protection as interracial marriages, the federal judges of lower courts are making these determinations that same-gender marriages must be legally recognized in all states, whether the state bans the performance of these marriages or not.

SCOTUS’ decision that the 14th amendment of the Constitution provides for equal protection for same-gender marriages regarding issues such as federal income tax are significant in the federal lower court rulings. Same-gender marriages are recognized in 21 states and the District of Columbia at this point.

This ruling by Judge Black does not strike down Ohio’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man with one woman. Federal courts in Michigan, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia are now making rulings on whether in-state prohibitions of same-gender marriages such as exist in Ohio are legal.

There are additional details regarding this specific case and the logic for the rulings in an article by James F. McCarty of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Three lesbian couples from Ohio and Kentucky are seeking birth certificates for their offspring that list both people as parents. A gay couple from New York that adopted a child is seeing similar recognition on their child’s birth certificate.

Judge Black’s ruling is on temporary hold until arguments can be presented by both sides regarding whether the decision should be immediately implemented. The plaintiff’s statements were due on April 14, 2014 and the State of Ohio statements are due on April 15, 2014. Judge Black is expected to make a quick ruling on whether to delay implementation of this judgment.

Judge Black made the following comments regarding his decision.

“Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances.”

Attorney General Michael DeWine made his summary statement regarding this decision.

“The definition of marriage has long been, and continues to be, a matter of state law. Ohio has decided to preserve the definition of traditional marriage.”

The spiritualist view is that the gender of those entering into marriage is not as important as the commitments made by the two people being married to love, honor and support each other.

If one relies on Old Testament prohibitions in the Bible to condemn same gender marriages, does support of polygamist marriages and treatment of women as property found in the Old Testament also apply?

There is a saying that nature abhors a vacuum. SCOTUS has failed to provide the leadership in ruling same-gender marriages as the law of the land. The federal district judges are moving forward to make these rulings that will ultimately force SCOTUS to make marriage equality apply for same-gender marriages as it did for interracial marriages.

Judge Black’s decision is another step in the eventual legalization of same-gender marriages across the US.