A federal judge in Cincinnati has
rejected a request from state attorneys which would have essentially
blocked a gay marriage lawsuit from proceeding to trial.
Ohio officials had asked U.S. District
Judge Timothy Black to have a funeral director removed from a lawsuit
seeking to have the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples
recognized on Ohio death certificates.
The addition of Cincinnati funeral
director Robert Grunn as a plaintiff expands the litigation beyond
the lawsuit's original plaintiffs, John Arthur and James Obergefell,
to include all legally married gay couples in Ohio.
The couple, together more than 20
years, married in June aboard a medical transport plane parked on a
tarmac of a Baltimore airport as Arthur battled a diagnosis of Lou
Gehrig's Disease. Upon returning to Ohio, the coupled sued to have
their marriage recognized so that Arthur could be buried in a family
plot that only allows descendants and spouses.
The couple asked the court to allow
Arthur to be listed as married on his death certificate, with
Obergefell recorded as his surviving spouse. Judge Black found in
favor of the couple.
Arthur died last month at the age of
The suit was later amended to include a
second married couple in which one of the men died suddenly.
In his July ruling, Black wrote that
Ohio law historically has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid:
“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.”
Black's rulings angered Ohio state Rep.
John Becker, a Republican from Union Township, who accused Black of
“malfeasance and abuse of power” in calling for the judge's