A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio
to recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Black's
decision was entirely expected.
After hearing arguments in the case on
April 4, Black announced that he would rule in favor of the four
plaintiff couples challenging Ohio's ban on gay marriage.
“Plaintiffs and other affected
same-sex couples require injunctive and declaratory relief to lift
the stigma imposed by Defendants' disrespect for their spousal and
parental statuses,” Black
wrote in his 45-page ruling. “Imposition of these burdens on
same-sex couples serves no legitimate public interest that could
counteract the severe and irreparable harm imposed by the recognition
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, applauded the ruling.
“Couples who are married should be
treated as married no matter where they are in the country, including
Ohio,” Wolfson said in an emailed statement. “Couples should not
have to play 'now you're married, now you're not' as they travel,
work, move or return home. This is a good day for families and
businesses in Ohio, and a good day for the Constitution and America.”
Black will consider staying his order
pending an expected appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in
Attorney Al Gerhardstein of Cincinnati,
who is representing the couples, originally was seeking marriage
recognition on birth certificates.
He amended his request to ask Black to
strike down Ohio's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment
prohibiting the state from recognizing any union other than a
heterosexual marriage. He explained that he had only asked Black to
recognize marriages from states which allow gay couples to marry.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has
already said that he would appeal the ruling.
All four states under the Sixth
Circuit's jurisdiction – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee –
have appealed or are planning to appeal similar rulings to the