To the Federal Courts! The issue of same-sex marriage in Ohio is heading back to the Federal Courts where attorney Al Gerhardstein is planning to ask Federal Judge Timothy Black to declare the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Expect this to head to the Supreme Court of the United States in the end.
Judge Black recently found in favor of two same-sex couples with regards to the death certificates of the deceased spouse in each case. Black ordered that the surviving spouse be listed as the spouse for the purposes of the death certificate. Both couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
Gerhardstein, who represents both couples, stated that “This case is about love surviving death. The last record of a person’s life on Earth should accurately state if the decedent is married and accurately name the surviving spouse.”
Meanwhile, attorneys for the state are set to argue that recognizing same-sex marriages on death certificates, even if the couple were married in a state that has legal same-sex marriage, is a violation of state law. According to the state’s attorneys “The basic nature of this fundamental institution (of marriage) should be established by the people of Ohio and not by select federal judges.”
While the case has been heard, Black is not expected to issue a ruling until at least around the end of the year or early next year.
In previous rulings, Black has sided with Gerhardstein, but limited to just the recently widowed gay men. Black noted that Ohio law has historically recognized out-of-state marriages as valid so long as they were married in a state where their marriage was legal, even if said marriages were illegal in Ohio such as between cousins or between an adult and a minor.
Black wrote back in August that “How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot.”