The federal district judge who last year ordered Ohio to recognize legally married same-sex spouses on death certificates plans to take that decision a step further in a ruling expected April 14, the Associated Press reports. But the judge stopped short of ordering Ohio to begin performing same-sex marriages.
Federal District Magistrate Timothy Black told attorneys representing both sides in Henry V. Wymyslo, a case challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriages, that he believes the voter-approved law violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution, according to the AP. The case before the court related only to the recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, as it was filed by same-sex couples who are legally married in other states who wish to be jointly listed on their children's birth certificates. Because of that, Black's ruling does not require the state of Ohio to begin performing same-sex marriages.
The AP notes that Black indicated how he would rule ahead of issuing his written decision in order to give the state time to prepare an appeal. The state is already appealing a similar ruling from Judge Black in Obergefell v. Kasich, where Black ruled that the state must a terminally ill man's husband as the surviving spouse on his death certificate. John Arthur and Jim Obergefell made headlines last summer when they married onboard a specially equipped plane on the tarmac of Maryland's Baltimore-Washington International Airport, since they could not marry in their home state. Arthur succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, last October.
The Human Rights Campaign was quick to label Black a stalwart defender of equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.
"For the second time Judge Black has affirmed that the marriages of committed and loving same-sex couples must be recognized by the state of Ohio," said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement. "Since the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality rulings last June, not a single state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge. It’s only a matter of time before marriage equality is the law of the land in not just Ohio, but every corner of America."