Ohio Judge Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage of Ailing Man and Partner
A federal judge in Ohio ruled Monday to recognize an out-of-state marriage between two men, as one of the men is nearing death and the couple wishes to be buried next to each other.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Black in Cincinnati granted John Arthur and his partner, Jim Obergefell, a temporary restraining order against Ohio's 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The couple was married in Maryland earlier this month, and filed a lawsuit against Ohio's Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Cincinnati Vital Statistics Registrar Camille Jones; their main goal being to have their marriage recognized on Arthur's death certificate.
Arthur reportedly suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and is expected to die within the next few days or weeks, his partner told the Associated Press.
In order for the gay couple to be buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery, where Arthur's family is buried, the couple must be listed as "spouses" on the death certificate.
Also, because Obergefell will be listed as Arthur's spouse, he may now have access to federal and state benefits.
Judge Black ruled on Monday that the couple would be granted a temporary restraining order which would expire August 5 and noted that it was specific to Obergefell and Arthur only.
"This is not a complicated case," Black wrote. "The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated."
Black also wrote that Ohio already recognizes same-sex marriages between first cousins and minors, which are legal in other states but not legal in Ohio.
John P. Curp, the city solicitor in Cincinnati, who was initially responsible in defending Cincinnati Vital Statistics Registrar Camille Jones in the lawsuit, refused to do so, passing the responsibility to Attorney General Mike DeWine.
DeWine challenged the lawsuit by arguing that by approving the couple's restraining order, Ohio would be setting a dangerous precedent for similar lawsuits in the future, and would undermine the voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state.
"Just as Maryland is free to choose to recognize same-sex marriage, Ohio is free to follow tradition," DeWine wrote in his response, as reported by The Baltimore Sun.
DeWine reportedly intends to appeal Black's ruling.
Those supporting Monday's ruling argue that it will pave the way for future lawsuits that could allow same-sex marriage in states where it is currently banned.
Al Gerhardstein, the attorney representing Obergefell and Arthur, told the Associated Press that Monday's ruling "is going to open the door to create a large number of same-sex couples married in other states" challenging state same-sex marriage bans.
In 2004, the majority of Ohio voters approved an amendment that changed the state's Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Gay marriage became legal in Maryland in January 2013 after over 50 percent of voters approved a statewide referendum legalizing same-sex marriage.