A federal judge in Cincinnati, who had already ruled that same-sex couples married in other states must have some legal rights when they live in Ohio, said Friday that he will shortly rule that they must have full marital equality.  Thus, a case that started out as a dispute over names on birth certificates would be transformed into a broader decision that Ohio must recognize valid gay and lesbian marriages performed elsewhere.

During a hearing in his court on Friday, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black disclosed that he plans to issue the new ruling within ten days.  The entry on the docket confirming his intention can be read here.  State officials told news organizations in Ohio that they would promptly appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The case is Henry v. Wymyslo (District Court docket 14-129).  It was filed in February by four same-sex couples who were married in other states; they either have children or expect to have a child delivered in coming weeks, and they want the names of both spouses on the birth certificates.  Ohio officials, under a state law that refuses to recognize same-sex marriages, have said they will not issue such certificates.

Lawyers for the couples have been attempting in recent weeks to get their case expanded into a challenge to any Ohio provision that bars recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.  On Friday, the judge indicated he would allow that, and struck down all such restrictions.

The case, however, does not involve Ohio’s ban on new same-sex marriages within the state.  The voters of Ohio approved that ban in 2004 by a margin of sixty-two to thirty-eight percent.

Last December, in another case, Judge Black ruled that Ohio must treat same-sex couples who were married in other states the same, for purposes of entering a spouse’s name on the death certificate of the other spouse.  The judge wrote: “The Court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages.”

It was after that ruling that the four couples began their lawsuit over the names on birth certificates.

Posted in Cases in the Pipeline, Same-Sex Marriage

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, New same-sex marriage ruling due in Ohio, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 4, 2014, 3:08 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/new-same-sex-marriage-ruling-due-in-ohio/