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Judge to strike down part of Ohio’s ban on gay marriage

Published: Sat, April 5, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Associated Press


A federal judge said Friday that he will order Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, a move that would strike down part of the state’s ban on gay marriages but stop short of forcing it to perform same-sex weddings.

Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati after final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Judge Black said. “[They’re] denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”

Judge Black said he’ll issue the ruling April 14. The civil- rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Federal judges also have struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, though stays have been issued pending appeals.

Pam and Nicole Yorksmith, a Cincinnati couple who married in California in 2008 and have a 3-year-old son, were among the four couples who filed the lawsuit challenging the gay-marriage ban and said Judge Black’s comments Friday gave them validation.

“It also validates to our kids that we’re bringing into our marriage that their parents are recognized by the state that we live in, and that’s extremely important,” Pam Yorksmith said. “We’re teaching kids of future generations that all families are different and just because our family doesn’t look like your family doesn’t mean that ours shouldn’t be recognized.”

Nicole Yorksmith is pregnant through artificial insemination with the couple’s second child and is due in June.

The Cincinnati-based legal team asked Judge Black to declare that Ohio’s gay- marriage ban is “facially unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable,” and indicated that after such a ruling, the window would be open for additional litigation seeking to force the state to allow gay couples to marry in Ohio.

“This is a serious problem at the basic level of human dignity,” civil-rights attorney Al Gerhardstein told Judge Black during Friday’s arguments. “That human dignity is denied by the way Ohio treats same-sex couples. This is central to our whole commitment as a nation to equality.”

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio’s attorney general, said the state will appeal Judge Black’s order when it comes out but declined to comment further.

Attorneys for the state argued that it’s Ohio’s sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman, that the statewide gay-marriage ban doesn’t violate any fundamental rights, and that attorneys improperly expanded their originally narrow lawsuit.

“Ohio has made its own decision regarding marriage, deciding to preserve the traditional definition,” state’s attorneys argued in court filings ahead of Friday’s hearing.

They argued that striking down the law would “disregard the will of Ohio voters and undercut the democratic process.”

Judge Black didn’t say why he made the announcement on his ruling before he issues it. But by stating his intention ahead of his ruling, he gave time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he does. The state also can work on asking Judge Black for a stay in his ruling pending appeal.


1dortalina80(7 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I just read the 14th Amendment and NOWHERE does it say anything about gay marriage or even marriage. Apparently the Founding Fathers never dreamed it would come to this and assumed people would do the normal thing (men marry women). Judge Black was appointed by Obama and that tells us all we need to know. He will interpret the Constitution to suit his clients -- ignoring the will of the people. I worked hard to get the issue on the ballot to amend Ohio's Constitution to establish marriage as between one man and one woman. The issue passed with 62% of 8 million voters voting to amend. Yet, Judge Black took it upon himself to tell Ohioans they must do otherwise much like the one who appointed him.

Gays cannot procreate so they benefit from the birthing children God's way but yet live a lifestyle that is "in your face' to the same God who made it possible.

The president of a nation sets the 'tone' and this president has set an immoral tone with total disregard for the consequences. There are consequences for the 'in your face' to what God has clearly deemed as sin and all of us are reaping them. We as a nation are economically, spiritually, morally and literally bankrupt. The good news is that He is merciful --- up until now. Tomorrow -- not sure.

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276Ytown(1254 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Time and time again the will of the people is being overturned by a single judge with the power to strike down the law.

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3billdog1(1412 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago

It appears judges have to much power. I really could care less whether the state would recognize gay marriages, but the people voted. The vote was NO. That should end the discussion. Period. As a community, state, or country when we put things to the election process it is for the people to decide, not an individual, no matter what his job title may be.

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