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Federal Judge Says He'll Require Ohio To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

A federal judge in Cincinnati said Friday that he will soon rule that Ohio must recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

WVXU reporter Ann Thompson writes that Judge Timothy Black said he will issue that ruling on April 14. She adds that:

"Attorney Al Gerhardstein, representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit about birth certificates, amended his request to ask Black to declare aspects of Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. In federal court Friday morning, the judge said he would do that."

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Black's ruling "does not directly impact Ohio's 2004 constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman." But the greater legal impact is unclear, partly because he has not issued a written opinion.

Ohio Attorney Gen. Mike DeWine tells WVXU he will appeal such a decision.

Some background on the case, also from WVXU:

"Three Cincinnati lesbian couples will ... try to force Ohio to recognize their out-of-state marriages, by demanding the state put their names on the birth certificates of their children. Their babies are due in June at Cincinnati hospitals.

"Plaintiffs also include a same-sex couple married and living in New York. They adopted a baby born in Ohio and want an order requiring Ohio to honor their New York adoption decree by placing both of their names on their son's birth certificate."

If Judge Black follows through and does strike parts of the ban approved by Ohio voters in 2004, his will join a growing list of similar decisions by federal judges across the nation. Some of our related posts about those cases:

-- Virginia's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional

-- Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma Ban On Gay Marriage

-- Kentucky Won't Appeal Order To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

-- Utah Seeks Emergency Stay Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

-- California's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional, Court Says

Eventually, legal analysts say, the issue is going to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. "And that's where it could ultimately be decided," DeWine tells WVXU.

Update at 3:23 p.m. ET. Misinterpretation:

Earlier reports by the AP and WVXU interpreted Black's comments as a sign he would strike down the ban entirely. According to The Columbus Dispatch, that is not the case. Instead, he will require Ohio to recognize gay marriages performed in states where it's legal.

Here what the plaintiff's attorney Al Gerhardstein told WVXU:

"This case will not say that people have a right to be married to same-sex partners in Ohio, but the precedent is getting stronger and stronger to the point where maybe that relief will come next."

We've posted a correction at the top of this post and also changed the body to reflect it.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: April 3, 2014 at 11:00 PM CDT
An earlier version of this post said a federal judge was poised to strike down Ohio's ban on gay marriage. The ruling, which will be issued later this month, appears to be more narrow, requiring Ohio to recognize marriages performed in other states.
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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