Judge: They're married, Ohio

Federal court orders state officials to record husband as surviving spouse on man's death certificate
Associated Press
Jul 23, 2013


Two Ohio men who want their out-of-state marriage recognized as one of them nears death have gotten a ruling in their favor from a federal judge, who wrote that they deserve to be treated with dignity in a case that's seen as encouraging for same-sex marriage supporters in the state.

Federal Judge Timothy Black ordered Monday that the death certificate of ailing John Arthur show that he was married and that James Obergefell is his surviving spouse. The ruling means the pair can be buried next to each other in Arthur's family plot, located at a cemetery that only allows descendants and spouses.

Ohio does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Arthur and Obergefell say they've been in love for more than 20 years, that Arthur is likely on the verge of dying from Lou Gehrig's disease, and that "they very much want the world to officially remember and record their union as a married couple," according to a lawsuit filed by the couple Friday against Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine and a Cincinnati official responsible for filing death certificates.

Obergefell said Tuesday that he and Arthur's fight was about more than just a piece of paper.

"To have a federal judge say, 'You know what, John and Jim, your relationship exists and it's just as valid as any other married couple,'" Obergefell said. "It's an incredible feeling — that we do matter."

Though Black's order was specific to the couple's case, opponents of Ohio's ban on gay marriage were encouraged by it.

"This is one more step toward marriage equality in the state of Ohio," said the couple's attorney, Al Gerhardstein, who said he's gotten calls from other same-sex couples who married in other states and are exploring their options to have their marriage recognized in Ohio.

He said that Arthur and Obergefell were courageous to take on the legal fight, given Arthur's declining health.

"They're in the middle of every couple's worst nightmare," Gerhardstein said. "This is a very difficult time for them and to share this time with the world as they try to solve these problems — it's been a huge sacrifice for them and I admire them."

The couple, determined to marry before Arthur died, flew in a special jet with medical equipment to Maryland, which recognizes gay marriage. They wed July 11 inside the plane on an airport tarmac before returning to Cincinnati the same day, according to court records.

In his ruling, Black said that historically, Ohio law has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid as long as they were legal where they took place, pointing to marriages between cousins and involving minors.

"How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriages as ones it will not recognize?" Black wrote. "The short answer is that Ohio cannot."

DeWine's spokesman, Dan Tierney, said in a statement that "this is a temporary ruling at a preliminary stage under sad circumstances."

He said DeWine's office will defend the right of Ohioans to define marriage and that the U.S. Supreme Court has recently emphasized that it is a definition that traditionally lies with states.

"Ohio's voters are entitled to the choice they have made on this fundamental issue," he said.

Kasich spokesman Robert Nichols said in a statement that the office doesn't comment on pending litigation, "other than to say that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Black wrote that the couple would experience irreparable harm without his timely ruling.

"The uncertainty around this issue during Mr. Arthur's final illness is the cause of extreme emotional hardship to the couple," Black wrote. "Dying with an incorrect death certificate that prohibits Mr. Arthur from being buried with dignity constitutes irreparable harm."



Yellow Snow

That's a fast order by the Federal judge, they've only been married 12 days or less. I didn't know anything Federal could move that quickly,


So glad it went in your favor Jim, but so sorry you are having to go through it at all.


Hey, wait! I've been having attractions to my dog that I have had for a few years. I want to marry him and allow my insurance to cover his vet bills.


not real appropriate... sigh

The Answer Person

That's good and bad. Good for you since you probably don't have a lot of other choices, but bad for your dog who would if he could get out more! Good luck and don't forget to use a condom!


Now that is funny!

sandtown born a...

Agreed rotflmao


So happy for you both.


I feel as though your dog could do a lot better than you.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

If marriage, legally, was nothing more than a personal contract which carried no other status, benefits, or recognition this wouldn't be as a big an issue as it is. I do believe that people are passionate about marriage and feel very strongly, and most importantly - personally, about it. I find it ironic that men have been entering into business partnerships together for years without public fuss.

But then, we as the public make no presumptions about their personal lives as such since it seems "obvious" what they'll be (not?) doing...which can still be almost as beneficial as marriage (as much as I am against such handouts-for-status) such as buy life/health insurance on each other and make contracts, etc. In fact it may even be moreso what with various resources for small businesses that a married couple doesn't have access to.

thinkagain's picture

What a tragedy that John Arthur will soon have his “case” judged by God and he has chosen to forfeit the free gift of eternal life, which is already paid in full by Jesus' precious blood.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

One last good spit in the face of God before he shuffles off this mortal coil. See you, wouldn't want to be you.


So glad to know you have an "in" with the Big Guy that allows you to determine their afterlife. It’s funny how religious people are quick to use bible passages when they work and agree with them. I find your arrogance on being able to pass judgment quite appalling and contrary to the very teachings you love to cite. Maybe you should start be less quick to judge lest ye forfeit the free gift of eternal life eh?


The bible does say that marriage is between a man and a woman.


What if one of them is a transexual? Does it address that?


It makes absolutely no difference what the bible says; our way of life is based off of the constitution, not the Christian bible; in addition, our country was NOT founded on Christian beliefs. Get over it.


"our country was NOT founded on Christian beliefs. Get over it."

..................It was , wake up.


The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .
The Establishment Clause is immediately followed by the Free Exercise Clause, which states, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". These two clauses make up what are called the "Religion Clauses" of the First Amendment.[1]

The Establishment Clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference by the U.S. government of one religion over another. The first approach is called the "separation" or "no aid" interpretation, while the second approach is called the "non-preferential" or "accommodation" interpretation. The accommodation interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government's entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause.


"our country was NOT founded on Christian beliefs."

That was your point.
Stick to the point.
Read about the formation of the Constitution.
Don't cherry-pick and pull words out of context.

Peninsula Pundit

'...one nation, under GOD, indivisible, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for ALL'!
Well since JUSTICE is gone and LIBERTY is under full assault by the very people who should be enforcing it, it is comforting to know that at least God is not mocked, regardless of the failures of the institutions of Man.


actually, the original pledge, writtin in 1892, and adpoted by congress in 1942, did not contain the words "under God"
These words were inserted in 1948.
Poeple who think that they "know God" or "know the word of God" are insane.


You should not be posting.
You make yourself look real stupid.


I'll bet you you can't prove it.

Wanna bet?

sandtown born a...

Keep relying on your cult book and see how far that gets you. Religion= a feel good way of life with no reality to be proven


Meowmix Bravo!


Glad to hear that you know it all.


If marriage is such a strong covenant between the couple and God, why is the divorce rate so high?


It's not God's fault that divorce rates are so high.


I feel that it is a losing battle. Just as we can't control the violence in the middle east, we can't control the drug issue, we can't control the illegals entering our country, so we can't control the morals of others. It seems to be escalating in the world. I sometimes wonder why I don't just give up trying to live a good life and do what I would like to do. That includes whopping the heck out of some people instead of putting a smile on my face and trying to get along.

The Big Dog's back

You don't "whop" the heck out of some people because they might whop you back.


Probably a loser judge looking for attention. Last I knew this was uncontitutional in Ohio.


What did the cemetery have to say about it? It is a private cemetery I presume. If they require family members only, could they refuse them on these grounds also?

As for all the arguments about divorce rates or God in marriage, marriage has been about legalities and monetary benefits for a long time. Nothing to do with God anymore, and divorce is an industry. You don't need government approval to be united in the eyes of God. God isn't governed by congress, although they may think they have that much power.


Presumably, the cemetery's policy is to go by what's on the death certificate - that's why they're pursuing this. Therein lies the real problem - too many private institutions are turning to the state to make their decisions for them. If not for that, there'd be no marriage controversy.

Peninsula Pundit

So much for States Rights in America.
Maybe John Boehner will come to the aid of his state and stop this travesty?
If you want lip service, call him.
If you want results, why is he in Congress?

Peninsula Pundit

'The couple, determined to marry before Arthur died, flew in a special jet with medical equipment to Maryland, which recognizes gay marriage. They wed July 11 inside the plane on an airport tarmac before returning to Cincinnati the same day, according to court records.'
Inquiring minds would like to know who paid for these very expensive arrangements?
Knowing that may well expose the real actors in this farce.
Another way to shove queer marriage down the rest of our throats.

The Big Dog's back

Why do you care?


I do believe if Jesus were around today, he'd be preaching love, and wouldn't want people hating others who simply wanted to love as well.

Remember, Jesus didn't write the Bible. He himself felt compassion for all people, unlike the men that wrote a book about this awe-inspiring being. I'm not even a Christian, but I can believe a great, caring, compassionate being could exist, and that like all good things, its message would be corrupted and twisted by those who seek to sway power in their favor.

Vengeful, spiteful, hateful, fearful; these things describe a human, not a God, or even a son of a God. Take a lesson from your creator, and learn to love ALL God's creations. Even the ones you might disagree with.


"Deuteronomy 22:13-21:
13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,

14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:

15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:

16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;

17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;

19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:

21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you."

Oh my goodness! They're allowing non-virgin women to marry in this country! According to the Bible, they shall be stoned to death! The sky is falling! The world is going to end! They're going to start allowing people to marry farm animals! Call congress! Call the president!

Give me a break, bible thumpers, this is written in your own book.


Get over it.


Get over the fact that you can justify your opinion, or your bible, or tell the difference between the bible, and the constitution? Get over the fact that you're wrong? I am over it.


You don't know what you're talking about.


really? are you incapable of defending your position? Can you explain why the religion clause was written? Can you explain why the bible says what it says about non-virgin women and marriage? Or are you only capable of saying "get over it," "prove it," or "you don't know what your talking about?"
Does your rebuttle have any substance whatsoever? Or are you sitting there, holding your breath, with your hands over your ears?


How did you know I was on the toilet?

sandtown born a...

Seperation of church and state? Oh ok it only applies when it fits your beliefs .


In no time throughout history has it ever been proven that straight couples raise kids better than gay couples. We have so many kids that need adopted, and we want to PREVENT this? That is insanity. We have celebrities adopting kids from other countries, while the poor orphans in our own are left to the system.

I would encourage marriage between gay couples on this fact alone. Although there are many others as well. I do however believe that if a church wants to refuse to marry a couple, they have the right to do so, seeing as how there is a separation of church and state. That couple could then find a church that will, or even a justice of the peace.

People need to realize that, no matter the color of your skin, who you love, or what you believe in spiritually or otherwise, we all deserve the same inalienable rights as human beings. It's not like it's some new concept that was invented just a few minutes ago.

thinkagain's picture

The U.S. Department of Justice's latest cause - fighting for a transgendered California ninth-grader's right to use the boy's room at school

“Eric Holder needs to reread the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and find out that civil rights are based on an unchangeable, immutable characteristic. You cannot change your genes or your gender. You have chromosomes and they are either XX or XY. This is a girl who has been environmentally warped to believe she is a boy, and, instead of coddling this confused child, her parents should have gotten her into counseling with an expert on gender confusion.”

The same is true for homosexuals, they are not born homosexual, they have been environmentally warped…

thinkagain's picture

Our Maker is not willing that any should spend eternity separated from Him, but that all should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

God is holy and our free will to sin against Him has separated us from Him. On the other hand God loves us and has shown His love by sending His Son for our reconciliation and forgiveness.

The answer is Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of God's justice and love.

That's why Jesus is the key, and life's supreme question becomes, what will you do with Christ?


There are dozens, if not hundreds, of religions in the United States- not just Christians; the Constitution states that they shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion- what makes you so selfish to think that YOUR religion is the RIGHT one? There are people of other faiths who believe that you're beliefs are wrong- how do YOU know who is right?

"When one person suffers an illusion, it's called insanity; when many people suffer an illusion, it's called religion"

If you want to live in a country that is based off of Christian beliefs, move to the Vatican.


Don't you love it when Judges make law? We have no gay marriage law in Ohio he cannot just deem it. Everyone in this Gov. thinks they are a King


I have house insurance and hope my house doesn't burn down. I have car insurance and hope I'm not involved in an accident. I spend a little time and money being a Christian and it could be making me just a little better person. When I die, if there isn't a God, I'm out very little but if there is a God, I have at least taken out a little insurance. Doesn't mean I'll be going to Heaven but maybe I'll have a better chance.
He could be cremated and the remains put in His partners casket. Not trying to make a sick joke but it is an idea.