Federal judge rules that Ohio must respect gay couples’ marriages from other states
April 14, 2014
Today, U.S. District Court judge Timothy Black officially issued his ruling in Henry v. Himes, declaring that the state of Ohio must respect the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. He wrote, "Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances."
The ruling has been stayed - meaning it does not take effect immediately - throughout the state of Ohio. Tomorrow, the judge will revisit whether a stay is necessary for the four plaintiff couples, who he says have demonstrated clear and urgent harm: That when they give birth to their children, they must be respected as married so that both parents can appear on the birth certificates. The judge wrote, "The Court inclines toward a finding that the issuance of correct birth certificates for Plaintiffs’ children, due in June or earlier, should not be stayed."
Last week, during closing arguments in the case, Judge Black announced from the bench that he anticipated striking down the part of Ohio's marriage law that denies respect to legally married couples.
Earlier this year, Judge Black ruled that the state of Ohio must respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples for the purpose of listing a spouse on a death certificate. That ruling, in Obergefell v. Wymyslo, is currently being appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson celebrated the news today. He said:
Couples who are married should be treated as married no matter where they are in the country, including Ohio. Couples should not have to play 'now you're married, now you're not' as they travel, work, move, or return home. This is a good day for families and businesses in Ohio, and a good day for the Constitution and America.
This is now the eleventh huge federal court victory in favor of the freedom to marry since the United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States. In total, there are more than 60 lawsuits seeking the freedom to marry or respect for same-sex couples' marriages working their way through the system in 29 states or territories. You can keep track of what's going on in state, federal, and trial courts with Freedom to Marry's Litigation Resource.
Special thanks to Kathleen Perrin at Equality Case Files for the filing.