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Ohio Couple’s Case Illustrates The Ongoing Damage Of DOMA

599px-courtgavelAnd with this case, it begins. US District Court Magistrate Judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order specific to John Arthur and James Obergefell which orders Ohio state officials to recognize the two men’s marriage. Arthur is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and apparently does not have long to live.

Because of a stipulation made by his grandfather when the family’s plots were laid out at the Spring Grove Cemetary, Obergefell would not be allowed to be buried with Arthur without the order. Arthur’s grandfather stipulated only his descendants and their spouses could be buried in the family plot.

The two men married
in Maryland on 11 July. Maryland recognizes same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, under Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Ohio is not required to recognize their marriage despite the fact that the US Constitution requires that a contract entered into in one state be recognized in all states, and this includes marriages.

The couple asked the Ohio judge to overturn existing Ohio law which does not recognize same-sex marriage so that Obergefell could be listed as Arthur’s surviving spouse on his death certificate.

Under current precedent, a person who is married in one state does not become unmarried the moment they cross state lines. This is according to Loving v. Virginia. The Loving case is built upon the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution which states that a contract entered into in one state must be honored in another. This is why a man of 50 can marry a girl of 16 in some states without it being considered illegal in other states or two first cousins can marry in some states and have it recognized as legal in states where first cousins cannot get married.

Cases involving the Full Faith and Credit Clause are working their way through the courts currently.

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