US District Judge Timothy S. Black ruled that a portion of the amendment is unconstitutional, specifically a clause that prohibits the state from recognizing same sex marriages executed in other states. Black concluded that with the ban one state effectively “terminates” the law of another state.
He also issued a stay on the order for both sides to respond legally. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
At any rate, the ruling is the latest in the ongoing battle over same sex marriage. Ohio voters passed a same sex marriage ban in 2004 in a popular referendum. The amendment defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Since that time, public opinion has evolved in favor of allowing same sex unions of some sort. A new referendum to overturn the amendment is in the works, too, and may appear on the ballot as soon as this November.
Judicial rulings across the nation have accelerated the trend, with many states now allowing same sex marriage. The danger of the legal route is alienation, with abortion being the prime example. Democratic momentum points to the eventual legalization of same sex marriage in most states, and probably in relatively short order. Legalization seemingly by judicial fiat does not give the people a say, whereas with a democratic decision, the losers know they simply lost.
It seems plausible, if not probable, that Ohio voters will reverse themselves this November, and while the ruling has buoyed the spirits of the pro-same sex marriage movement, it might also motivate those opposed to the change. Additionally, the new referendum could affect the outcome of other elections, as it will surely increase voter participation both sides of this contentious issue.