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."

 

Comments

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,

2kids

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

rezzy

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.

Swiftshot

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!

buckeye15

Now that is funny!

sandtown born a...

Agreed rotflmao

44846GWP

So happy for you both.

Mystery_Cheese

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

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.

meowmix

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?

arnmcrmn

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

meowmix

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

sfoley3603

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.

4shizzle

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

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

sfoley3603

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.

4shizzle

"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.

sfoley3603

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.

4shizzle

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

4shizzle

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

happyfeet64

Meowmix Bravo!

44846GWP

Glad to hear that you know it all.

YoMamma

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

4shizzle

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

grandmasgirl

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.

registerer

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

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