John M. Becker

UPDATED: Judge Will Strike Down Part of Ohio's Marriage Ban

Filed By John M. Becker | April 04, 2014 12:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, Ohio, same-sex marriage

POST UPDATED, see below.

A U.S. District Court Judge in southern Ohio says he is preparing to strike down the state of Ohio's constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, the Associated Press reports:

Cincinnati's WVXU-TV has further details:

Federal Judge Timothy Black says he will issue a ruling April 14 striking down 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. In federal court Friday morning, the judge said he would do that.

Gerhardstein told WVXU he didn't ask for gay couples to be allowed to marry in Ohio, just that the state recognize marriages from other states.

I'm no lawyer, but it strikes me as a little unusual for a judge to give advance notice of a ruling in a marriage equality case like this. Perhaps Judge Black chose to do so in order to give the state time to prepare their appeal. What do you think is his reason for taking this highly unusual step?

Stay tuned for updates.

rainbow-ohio.jpgUPDATE: The AP has issued a clarification: it looks like Judge Black plans to strike just part of the ban -- the provision barring the state from recognizing valid same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Here's the full text of the Ohio ban:

Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

And the AP's updated report:

A federal judge says he will strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, meaning the state must recognize marriages of gay couples who legally wed elsewhere.

Judge Timothy Black made the statement Friday following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

He says he'll issue the ruling April 14 prohibiting Ohio officials from enforcing the ban, which he says violates constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. Black's ruling will not mean Ohio has to allow couples to marry in the state.

Attorneys for the state had argued that it's Ohio's sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

By announcing his intention ahead of his ruling, Black gives time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he rules.

So it's a partial victory, but still, a great step towards full marriage equality in Ohio!


Judge Black is the judge who ruled in favor of Jim Obergefell, an Ohio man who sued to have his legal out-of-state marriage to husband John Arthur recognized on John's death certificate.

A copy of Judge Black's minute entry is after the jump, via Equality Case Files.

This is what Judge John G. Heyburn did in Kentucky earlier this year.

1:14-cv-00129 Minute Entry by Equality Case Files

h/t: David Badash.

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