A federal judge in Ohio officially issued a ruling today declaring Ohio’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Judge Timothy Black gave advance notice last week of his intentions in order to give the state time to prepare its appeal. He also placed a stay on his ruling pending appeals meaning same-sex marriages cannot yet begin in the state.
Still, it marks the 10th consecutive ruling invalidating such a ban since the US Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act last June.
His ruling comes in a case that has four married same-sex couples seeking an order that would require the state to place the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children.
Black found Ohio’s ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples to unconstitutional and that the state has no justification for such discrimination.
‘When a state effectively terminates the marriage of a same-sex couple married in another jurisdiction by refusing to recognize the marriage, that state unlawfully intrudes into the realm of private marital, family, and intimate relations specifically protected by the Supreme Court,’ he writes in the opinion.
Black also wrote: ‘Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the substantive due process rights of the parties to those marriages because it deprives them of their rights to marry, to remain married, and to effectively parent their children, absent a sufficient articulated state interest for doing so.’
The judge also found that the state is in violation of the Constitution by denying recognition to out-of-state adoption decrees and by refusing to amend the birth certificates of Ohio-born children.
He wrote: ‘The inability to obtain an accurate birth certificate saddles the child with the life-long disability of a government identity document that does not reflect the child’s parentage and burdens the ability of the child’s parents to exercise their parental rights and responsibilities.’
The ruling comes in a case involving three are lesbian couples who are expecting children to be born in Ohio and a married same-sex couple living in New York City but whose adopted son was born in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Health, the agency charged with issuing birth certificates in the state, will not issue or amend birth certificates to name both parents.
‘This is a great day for fairness and respect for Ohio families,’ Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation for Lambda Legal said in a statement.
‘This powerful opinion affirms what we have been arguing all along: These couples’ marriages were disrespected by Ohio’s discriminatory laws, and created not only a second-class of families by nullifying legal marriages from other states, but also a second-class of parents, where one could be listed on a birth certificate and one could not.’