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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 16
Judge stays ruling on Ohio marriages
Section One
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Judge stays ruling on Ohio marriages

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Federal District Judge Timothy Black has stayed his ruling ordering Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

In an April 16 order, Black said Ohio must recognize only the marriages of the four couples who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit Henry v. Hymes, formerly Henry v. Wymyslo. Black ruled in that case on April 14, saying that the state's ban on recognizing legal same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

The state of Ohio has appealed that ruling. In explaining the stay, Black said that although he thinks the state's appeal will not succeed, there is still a chance the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals could overturn his decision.

-The court recognizes that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if (the) appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay ... is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity and high costs,- Black said.

-Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone's best interests.-

Had Black not issued the stay, all same-sex married couples living in Ohio would immediately have been able to obtain the same rights and benefits as any other married couple in the state, including inheritance and property rights, and the right to make some medical decisions for each other.

Al Gerhardstein, the Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents the four couples in the lawsuit argued against a stay of any kind. In a statement after the stay was issued, he said that -at least for these four couples, the Constitution stands on the side of love.-

-The implementation of same-sex marriage recognition has started and we are all very excited,- he added. -We will try and expedite the appeals process so full marriage recognition for all same-sex couples does not trail too far behind.-

Three of the four couples in the lawsuit live in the Cincinnati area. One spouse in each relationship is pregnant and due to give birth this summer. The fourth couple lives in New York City, but adopted a child from Ohio.

In a court filing attorneys for the state did not contest Black's stated intention to allow both partners to be listed on their children's birth certificates.

In his April 14 ruling, Black said the state's refusal to recognize out-of-state Gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and -unenforceable in all circumstances.-

-The record before this court ... is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state's ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,- Black wrote.

Including Black, eight federal judges have issued rulings supporting same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court decision striking down the key section of DOMA in USA v. Windsor last June. All but one of those rulings has been stayed pending appeal.

Although Black's order does not force Ohio to allow Gay marriages to be performed in the state, Gerhardstein said he was planning to file a lawsuit in the next couple of weeks seeking such a ruling.

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