Narrow Ruling Rejects Ohio Gay Marriage Ban
A federal judge ordered Ohio authorities Monday to recognize gay marriages on death certificates, saying that the state’s ban on such unions is unconstitutional and that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples simply because some voters don’t like homosexuality.
Although Judge Timothy Black’s ruling applies only to death certificates, his statements about Ohio’s gay-marriage ban are sweeping, unequivocal and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
Black cited a prediction by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote in a strong dissenting opinion in June that the court majority’s decision to strike down part of an anti-gay marriage law would lead to a rash of state challenges.
Black said the prediction came true and now the lower courts must apply the high court’s ruling.
"The question presented is whether a state can do what the federal government cannot - i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples ... simply because the majority of the voters don’t like homosexuality (or at least didn’t in 2004)," Black said in reference to the year Ohio’s gay marriage ban passed. "Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no."
New Mexico’s high court issued a ruling last week legalizing gay marriage there, and a day later, a federal judge struck down a ban on the practice in Utah, bringing to 18 the total number of states that allow same-sex weddings, plus the District of Columbia. That’s up from six before the Supreme Court decision.