A federal judge in Ohio ruled that adhering to the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional when it comes to death certificates.
Judge Timothy Black ruled Monday that state officials must recognize the unions of same-sex couples, the Associated Press reports. The ruling, while specifically addressing the matter of death certificates, also touches upon all aspects of the state law denying marriage equality, and provides a gateway toward challenging the law.
The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by two gay couples. In the case of each couple, one spouse was dying, and the surviving spouse wanted to be recognized on their death certificates as married.
"Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away," Black wrote.
John Arthur, the marriage equality advocate who made headlines in July after a federal judge ordered Ohio state officials to recognize his marriage, performed in Maryland, to his longtime partner, James Obergefell, died in October.
David Michener of Cincinnati will be listed as the spouse of his husband, William Herbert Ives, on Ives's death certificate, as reported in September. The couple of 18 years married in Delaware this summer, but Ives died unexpectedly August 27. Together, they raised three children.
Ohio's marriage ban was approved by voters in 2004.
According to poll results announced last week by Freedom to Marry Ohio, 56% of voters in the state support marriage rights for same-sex couples.