Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Attorney Al Gerhardstein, left, stands with several same-sex couples at a news conference, Friday, April 4, 2014, in Cincinnati. Civil rights attorneys are arguing in Federal Court on Friday that a federal judge should prohibit Ohio officials from enforcing the state's ban on gay marriage. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Judge to strike down part of Ohio gay marriage law
Courts » The state will be ordered to recognize out-of-state unions.
First Published Apr 04 2014 03:29 pm • Last Updated Apr 04 2014 05:13 pm

Cincinnati • 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 following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"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," Black said. "(They’re) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."

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 have also 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 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 Black to declare that Ohio’s gay marriage ban is "facially unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable," and indicated that following 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 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."


story continues below
story continues below

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio’s attorney general, said the state will appeal 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."

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, Black gave time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he does. The state can also work on asking Black for a stay in his ruling pending appeal.

Gay rights organizations praised Friday’s development.

"It’s only a matter of time before marriage equality is the law of the land in not just Ohio, but every corner of America," said Chad Griffin, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign.

"The court’s forthcoming action shines a bright light on the fact that same-sex couples are denied their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection," said Ian James of FreedomOhio, a group working to have voters overturn the state’s ban as soon as this fall.

Phil Burress, who chaired the 2004 effort to ban same-sex marriage and is the president of Citizens for Community Values, said his group is prepared to fight any ballot initiative to repeal the ban.

He said he’s confident the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and other courts will overturn Black’s coming order and the seven recent rulings overturning statewide gay marriage bans elsewhere or ordering states to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.

"The domino effect you’re talking about is going to be short-lived," he said. "This is not the will of the people. This is a Hail Mary pass to get everyone forced to recognize same-sex marriage by having the courts do their dirty work."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.