Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban Rejected in Ruling, Balllot Vote Possible in 2014

With New Mexico and Utah rounding out the year by declaring bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, Ohio is now making some progress of its own. U.S. Magistrate Timothy Black ruled Monday that Ohio should recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates — even if those marriages took place out-of-state. “This conclusion flows from the Windsor (DOMA) decision of the United States Supreme Court this past summer, which held that the federal government cannot refuse to recognize a valid same-sex marriage,” Black wrote. His ruling continues:

That is, once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot , because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution ...Moreover, as this Court held in its initial Orders this summer and reaffirms today, by treating lawful same-sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection: that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.”summarily take your marriage away.

It's not an entirely unexpected move, and it draws on a precedent Black set in a case two months ago. A terminally-ill Ohio man married his long-term partner in Maryland, prompting Black to rule that the marriage would be regarded as legal — the provision he reinforced today.

And this won't be the last Ohio sees of the issue: Former Attorney General Jim Petro is working with activist groups on plans to get the vote for same-sex marriage on the ballot for 2014.