2013-JUL-23: Same-sex marriage recognized in Ohio only on death certificates -- but only temporarily and for one couple, so far:
That DOMA ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was of immense benefit to many same-sex married couples. For example, Edith Wilson who launched that lawsuit received a refund of over a third of a million dollars in federal and state inheritance taxes because the federal government began to recognize her marriage.
Many commentators recognized that the ruling in Windsor contained many arguments that could be used directly in lawsuits that seek to legalize same-sex marriages in the 32 states which currently forbid them (as of 2013-DEC-25). They expected a flood of lawsuits would be eventually launched in federal District Courts. Some might make their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it is unlikely that any commentators expected a positive District Court ruling in such a case within a month of the Windsor ruling. Exactly that has happened in Ohio!
John Arthur, 47 and Jim Obergefell, 47 had been in a same-sex relationship for over twenty years. They live in Cincinnati OH. Arthur had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a.k.a. ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease). He is bedridden, and was expected to die shortly. His dying wish was that they be married. 3
Since they were prohibited from marrying in Ohio, they chartered a medically-equipped plane to fly on 2013-JUL-11 from Cincinnati to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Glen Burnie, MD. They were married in the plane as it sat on the airport tarmac. A friend of the couple, Paulette Roberts, officiated. Later that day, they were flown back to Ohio.
This Huffington Post video describes Arthur and Obergefell's relationship and marriage:
On JUL-19, they filed a lawsuit in federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It is called Obergefell v. Kasich. It names John Kasich (R) in his capacity of Governor of Ohio as a defendant. It sought a temporary restraining order requiring the Ohio Registrar of Death Certificates to register Arthur's marital status as "married" and list Obergefell as "surviving spouse" when Arthur died. 4 The main reason for their decision was to allow them to be buried in the Arthur family plot together. Obergefell's grandfather had stipulated that only direct descendants and their spouses can be buried there. 5
According to BuzzFeed:
"Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office attempted to deny Arthur's dying wish by defending the state’s laws in filings with the court on Monday [JUL-22], However, Cincinnati city lawyers representing Dr. Camille Jones, the vital statistics registrar for the city, declined to defend the law, telling the court that the City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages, but that the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned'." 6
District Judge Timothy Black issued a temporary injunction for both Obergefell and John Arthur, and for a second couple that had also joined the lawsuit. He based his decision largely on two rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and on Ohio's history:
Their ruling in Romer v. Evans in 1996 that overturned Amendment 2, an state-wide anti-gay constitutional amendment in Colorado. 7
Ohio law historically has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid as long as they were legal where they were solemnized. He cited marriages between first cousins and marriages involving minors which are not permitted in Ohio, but have been recognized if the couple had been legally married elsewhere.
The text of the original complaint, of the temporary restraining order, of the response from the Attorney General's office, and of the City of Cincinnati's response are available online. 6
Robert Higgs of The Plain Dealer wrote that Judge:
"Black’s ruling came as a temporary restraining order that now would expire AUG-05. What remains to be seen is whether the court grants a permanent injunction in the case and if so, whether such a ruling would bar application of the Ohio laws broadly or be restrained to this case." 8
On JUL-26, "kathymorganm" posted her comment to the BuzzFeed article that was judged to be the best comment by the editors:
"No matter what gender or race if you love someone you love them and if you want to get married you should be allowed andshould be recognized in the eyes of the law just as it does for a man and woman."
To which "bruce8," who bears a strong resemblance to the main author of this web site, responded with his own personal opinion:
"I expect that a generation from now, students in high schools will be absolutely astounded to learn that, prior to about 2018. there were actually states in the U.S. where loving, committed couples were unable to marry because they were of the same sex, and that prior to 1967, couples were unable to marry in some states because they were of different races, and that prior to the early 20th century, couples were unable to marry in some states because they were both deaf, and that prior to 1865, couples had been unable to freely marry because they had been slaves. They will simply be unable to understand the level of hatred and cruelty that caused such fundamental miscarriages of justice and violations of Christian love and morality to occur."
John Arthur died of ALS on the early morning of 2013-OCT-22.
2013-JUL-23: About the temporary injunction by federal District Court Judge Timothy Black:
Dan Sewell of the Huffington Post wrote that:
"The lawsuit has been expanded to have the out-of-state marriages of all ... [same-sex married] couples in similar situations recognized on Ohio death certificates, despite the statewide ban on same-sex marriage.
The case has drawn attention in other states, including helping spark a similar but much broader lawsuit in Pennsylvania.
Black's decision also has irritated some conservative groups and lawmakers in Ohio, with one Republican state legislator calling for his impeachment. 10
Judge Black found that Ohio's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the guarantees of equal protection and due process in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The following excerpts are quoted from Judge Blacks ruling; they are not necessarily in the correct order:
"... [Obergefell and Arthur] have been living together in a committed and intimate relationship for more than twenty years."
"... they were very recently legally married in the state of Maryland pursuant to the laws of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage."
"... Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution."
"... the Ohio scheme has unjustifiably created two tiers of [married] couples: (1) opposite-sex married couples legally married in other states; and (2) same-sex couples [legally] married in other states. This lack of equal protection of law is fatal."