An Ohio judge ruled on Monday that the state must recognize out-of-state marriages on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black called the Ohio marriage ban unconstitutional, ruling states can’t discriminate because they don’t like homosexuality.
Ohio residents Jim Obergefell and John Arthur were married in July in a plane at Baltimore/Washington Airport. Arthur died in October. Obergefell sued to be recognized as Arthur’s husband on the death certificate.
The ruling applies only to death certificates, but the ruling broadly calls the state’s marriage amendment unconstitutional.
“Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away,” he wrote in his opinion.
Because this opinion applies only to death certificates, others will need to file litigation to have it apply to all Ohio marriages performed in marriage-equality states or countries.
The state argued the Defense of Marriage Act case recognized a state’s rights to define marriage. Forcing Ohio to recognize out-of-state marriages would allow one state to define marriage for all the others.
“No hypothetical justification can overcome the clear primary purpose and practical effect of the marriage bans … to disparage and demean the dignity of same-sex couples in the eyes of the state and the wider community,” Black wrote.