Federal Judge Rules Ohio Must Recognize Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages

By
Caleigh Bourgeois

Dateline
Updated Wed, Apr 30, 2014 5:27 pm

A federal judge has ruled that gay marriage be recognized by the state of Ohio, but it won't take complete effect right away.

Judge Timothy S. Black said it was unconstitutional to deny married gay couples state rights, but this will only apply to four specific couples as of Monday.

It all comes down to legal issues.

Attorney General Mike DeWine announced he will appeal Judge Black's decision, meaning the decision isn't final. 

"What we’re trying to do here is defend the Ohio statue, to defend the Ohio constitution," DeWine said.

The four cases resulting in the decision will continue to work their way up the court system, and could eventually land in the Supreme Court. In short, it could be a long wait before the ruling is officially law.

DeWine said he thinks if this case doesn't make it to the Supreme Court, a similar case on same-sex marriages will in the near future. 

"I think the issue itself will go all the way to the Supreme Court. Whether this case does or not is a different issue," he said.

In the meantime, married gay couples will still not be recognized in Ohio, except for the four couples whose cases Judge Black ruled on. In legal terms, this is called a stay. It prevents a gap period from occurring between today's ruling and the appeal process.

However, the ruling came as the result of four married gay couples asking for state recognition. The state of Ohio must now treat those four couples alone in the same manner of married straight couples, for purposes such as adopting children together.

This ruling will only apply to couples who were married in states where gay marriages are legally performed. Ohio is not one of them, meaning gay couples must leave the state to get married if they want to be recognized. It does not apply to commitment ceremonies performed in states where gay marriages are still illegal.

Ian James, executive director of LGBT advocacy group FreedomOhio said while he's excited about the change, there's still a long way to go.  

"This ruling brings us closer, but there is still much work to be done," he said.

A similar case was decided on by the Supreme Court last year. In the case of United States vs. Windsor, the Supreme Court decided married gay couples must be recognized for federal purposes, but did not decide on whether or not states should recognize the unions.

Judge Black's Decision On Gay Marriage


Caleigh Bourgeois is a fellow in Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. Follow her on Twitter @caleighreports.

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