Federal Judge Plans To Strike Down Ohio Marriage Recognition Ban

A prior decision by the judge was limited to recognizing same-sex couples’ marriages on death certificates.

WASHINGTON — Following a hearing Friday, a federal judge in Ohio announced he plans to rule that Ohio has to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples granted out of state.

In a docket entry summarizing the hearing, the court stated, “The Court anticipates striking down as unconstitutional under all circumstances Ohio’s bans on recognizing legal same-sex marriages from other states.”

Ohio’s 2004 law and constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying also bar the state from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples performed elsewhere. The case is not about whether Ohio must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but only the recognition portion of the state’s laws.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black previously ruled in December 2013 that the state had to recognize out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples for the limited purposes of listing a couple as married on a death certificate of one spouse. The state has appealed that ruling to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This case, brought in February on behalf of Brittani Henry and Brittni Rogers, initially was about birth certificates, and being able to have parents’ marriages recognized on them, but, per Friday’s docket entry, the decision will be finding the recognition ban unconstitutional “under all circumstances.”

Presuming the state will appeal this coming ruling as well, expected by April 14, the case would join the other Ohio recognition case, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky cases about marriage recognition and the Michigan case about full marriage equality in that state, on appeal before the 6th Circuit.

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