Judge to strike down part of Ohio gay marriage law

State will have to recognize out-of-state marriages after Judge Timothy Black's April 14 ruling
Associated Press
Apr 4, 2014

A federal judge said Friday that he will order Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, a move that would strike down part of the state's ban on gay marriages but stop short of forcing it to perform same-sex weddings.

Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

"I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio's recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Black said. "(They're) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."

Black said he'll issue the ruling April 14. The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and he did not say he would do so.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Federal judges have also struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, though stays have been issued pending appeals.

Pam and Nicole Yorksmith, a Cincinnati couple who married in California in 2008 and have a 3-year-old son, were among the four couples who filed the lawsuit challenging the gay marriage ban and said Black's comments Friday gave them validation.

"It also validates to our kids that we're bringing into our marriage that their parents are recognized by the state that we live in, and that's extremely important," Pam Yorksmith said. "We're teaching kids of future generations that all families are different and just because our family doesn't look like your family doesn't mean that ours shouldn't be recognized."

Nicole Yorksmith is pregnant through artificial insemination with the couple's second child and is due in June.

The Cincinnati-based legal team asked Black to declare that Ohio's gay marriage ban is "facially unconstitutional, invalid and unenforceable," and indicated that following such a ruling, the window would be open for additional litigation seeking to force the state to allow gay couples to marry in Ohio.

"This is a serious problem at the basic level of human dignity," civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein told Black during Friday's arguments. "That human dignity is denied by the way Ohio treats same-sex couples. This is central to our whole commitment as a nation to equality."

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio's attorney general, said the state will appeal Black's order when it comes out but declined to comment further.

Attorneys for the state argued that it's Ohio's sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman, that the statewide gay marriage ban doesn't violate any fundamental rights, and that attorneys improperly expanded their originally narrow lawsuit.

"Ohio has made its own decision regarding marriage, deciding to preserve the traditional definition," state's attorneys argued in court filings ahead of Friday's hearing.

They argued that striking down the law would "disregard the will of Ohio voters, and undercut the democratic process."

Black didn't say why he made the announcement on his ruling before he issues it. But by stating his intention ahead of his ruling, Black gave time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he does. The state can also work on asking Black for a stay in his ruling pending appeal.

Gay rights organizations praised Friday's development.

"It's only a matter of time before marriage equality is the law of the land in not just Ohio, but every corner of America," said Chad Griffin, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign.

"The court's forthcoming action shines a bright light on the fact that same-sex couples are denied their 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection," said Ian James of FreedomOhio, a group working to have voters overturn the state's ban as soon as this fall.

Phil Burress, who chaired the 2004 effort to ban same-sex marriage and is the president of Citizens for Community Values, said his group is prepared to fight any ballot initiative to repeal the ban.

He said he's confident the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and other courts will overturn Black's coming order and the seven recent rulings overturning statewide gay marriage bans elsewhere or ordering states to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.

"The domino effect you're talking about is going to be short-lived," he said. "This is not the will of the people. This is a Hail Mary pass to get everyone forced to recognize same-sex marriage by having the courts do their dirty work."

The lawsuit originally only asked Black to force Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages on birth certificates. Attorneys later expanded it for a broader and more significant ruling, a move that irked the state's attorneys.

"It could require a sea change in the way numerous government agencies and departments (not parties to this litigation) fulfill their duties," they wrote in court documents, referring to a ripple effect that could encompass Ohio statutes on insurance, mortgages, child guardianship and property.

The lawsuit built on the success of another one also filed by Gerhardstein that sought to force Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages on death certificates.

In December, Black granted that request, saying that Ohio's ban on gay marriage demeans "the dignity of same-sex couples in the eyes of the state and the wider community."

The state appealed that ruling, and the case is pending in the 6th Circuit appeals court.



Churches do not own marriage. In fact, a marriage doesn't exist without a marriage license - a marriage license that is issued by the state. Marriage licenses are not issued by churches. A church is NOT required for a marriage, but a state-issued marriage license is. Get married in a church without a marriage license? You're not married. So please stop with the ridiculous claim that churches own marriage.

Additionally, courts exist to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Just because a majority passes a law doesn't make it constitutional, and the minority has the right to ask the courts to protect their rights. Tradition is also no excuse to continue denying people the rights they are guaranteed under the constitution. Our rights are guaranteed under the constitution, not a religious book.


You are legally correct about government issued licenses for "marriage" but whether these licenses are morally correct is very debatable.

Maybe it s time to change the name of the required government issued license recognizing a relationship partnership between two people regardless of gender to "civil union" and reserve the term "marriage" which does historically arise from religion to those civil unions consecrated in a religious ceremony. In other words all marriages are civil unions but not all civil unions are marriages.

In any event the problem that will arise is with Birth Certificates as "father" is legally defined as the male parent of a child whether married or not but there's an assumption in law that the male member in a marriage is the father of any child born within that marriage.

Now that's not a problem with male-male "marriages" because no male can give birth to a child and be a "mother" so there can never be a child born into a male-male marriage. However, it's a possibility in a lesbian marriage because one female member can give birth to a child but it is a biological impossibility for the other female to be named as the "father" to her partner's child.

The terms mother and father are gender based and reveal our Creator's roles for us and the intended unit to best raise children. It is shameful that the special even holy roles of mother and father are being twisted into something else to indulge the self absorbed.


I totally agree Babo.


As soon as every state government agrees to issue civil union licenses - and only civil union licenses - and every federal and state right currently enjoyed by couples with a marriage license is automatically granted to those with civil unions (and only civil unions - marriages do not count), then we can talk about you "taking back" the word marriage. You need to accept the fact that the states issue marriage licenses and those marriage licenses are what dictate rights and responsibilities. Standing in front of a minister or in a church has nothing to do with it. Go get "married" in a church without a marriage license and let me know how successful you are in getting all of the legal rights that go with a marriage license. Your church does not own the word marriage.

You mention the "creator" because you believe that. I don't, and not everyone in our country does. Your religion has no place in our laws and should never be used to take away my rights or the rights of any other American citizen who doesn't believe what you do. Your religion. Keep it in your church and out of our laws and my life. Your morals - as dictated by your religion (well, the parts you and your religion choose to use to justify your bigotry, because you certainly ignore plenty of other things in the bible) should have no bearing on my rights.

Self-absorbed? How ridiculous. Two people who choose to adopt a child or become parents through artificial imsemination are anything but self-absorbed. They are choosing to be parents and doing their best to provide a safe and equal home for the child. You are so blinded by your faith that anything that goes against YOUR beliefs is automatically and inherently wrong. That is self-absorbed.

Shameful is the way you use your religion to dictate how I or any other American citizen should be treated or what rights we are due.


You are in denial about reality and IMO extremely mean-spirited.


I'm mean-spirited? Really. Am I trying to deny you or any other person his/her rights or equal treatment under the law? No. Have I called people names? No. Have I said anyone should not have the right to practice a religion or lead their life according to those beliefs? No.

Maybe it's just that I don't bend over backward to say your religion is more important than my rights.

Let's talk about mean-spirited. The state of Ohio fighting to remove a husband's name from a death certificate. The state of Ohio fighting to deny the couple adopting or raising a child the dignity of both being listed as parents. The state of Ohio fighting to deny one parent the rights and responsibilities that go with being listed on a birth certificate. The state of Ohio fighting to deny a child the dignity of having both parents listed on his/her birth certificate. Yeah, you're right. I'm the mean-spirited one here. (Sarcasm intended)

I'm in denial about reality? Please. I live life being denied rights, respect and dignity because of who I am and the way I was born. Being in denial about reality is refusing to accept that there are people who are not like you and who don't believe in what you do.


Yes IMO, you are trying to deny other people's rights to advance your own agenda and you are very hateful and self absorbed. You lack an understanding of law. The US Supreme Court did not state there is a constitutional right to homosexual marriage. It left it up to the states and in this state marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. Thus you are trampling on Ohioans' rights (do you even live here?) to define marriage.

I acknowledged that to solve the problem there should be under the law a legal status that grants all people in a committed personal partnership of two people the same rights of what we presently call marriage. However, the term "marriage" whether you like it or not arises from the religious traditions of this nation and it offends many people to cheapen or devalue that term by applying it to a legal relationship that morally offends them. We do have a right to our thoughts and moral views and not to have them forced upon us.

Thus, I suggested the nation change the legal status we presently describe as "marriage" to civil union or another term is domestic partnership and grant everybody the same rights in that legal entity. In other words, everyone would have to obtain a civil union license before entering into the "union" or partnership through a civil ceremony or through a religious ceremony. The term "marriage" and terms husband and wife would be reserved to the subset of civil unions performed in a religious manner between a man and a woman.

Importantly there would be no distinction on legal rights between the two, but would acknowledge the religious rights (that pesky first amendment right you want to deny the majority of this nation)and biological reality.


Lack of understanding of the constitution? I'd like to remind you that states' rights end where individual rights begin. States cannot pass laws that infringe upon the individual rights of citizens. If they do, the courts can - and do - rule them unconstitutional.

Not that it matters or that you have any right to know, but yes, I am an Ohioan. I'm an Ohioan who is tired of being treated as a second-class citizen. I'm an Ohioan who is tired of religion being used to deny me rights. I'm an Ohioan who is tired of people saying their beliefs carry more value under the law than my individual rights. I'm an Ohioan who is tired of people hiding behind "we voted on it in 2004" as a a valid reason the law should remain on the books. I'm an Ohioan who's tired of the phrase "activist judge" when those judges are doing what they're supposed to do, make decisions based on the constitution, not a religion, in order to protect the rights of all Americans.

How exactly am I, or any other person advocating equal rights, denying your constitutional right to practice your religion? Am I preventing you from believing or practicing your religion? No. Am I preventing you from living your life according to your religious principles? No. Have i stopped you outside your house of worship and said sorry, you can't go in? No. Have i said you must marry a person of the same sex in your church? No. Have I said your marriage in a church is now worth less because two woman got married? No. So many people seem to think that freedom of religion means you're free to impose your religion on everyone else. Freedom of religion means I also have the right to freedom from religion. So, please, explain exactly how I am denying you the right to believe and worship as you wish. I'm really curious to know how I have such power. You, on the other hand, want to use your religion to dictate my morals. My rights. My life. My value as a human being.

You say you have the right not to have others' moral views forced upon you. What exactly are you doing by denying me the right to marry, have my legal marriage recognized, adopt, inherit, etc solely because your religion thinks I'm somehow less worthy of rights? What laws have gay rights groups proposed that would restrict your right to practice the religion of your choice? None. You seem to be a proponent of laws that deny me the same rights you enjoy. Is it because your morals are better than mine? Or more important? Do your religious tradition trumps my rights?

There are those words again. Religion. You still have the right to practice your religion but I should have the right to be treated equally without respect to your religion. Tradition. Traditions are always good things and we should hold onto them regardless of everything, right? Tradition would dictate, therefore, that women have no rights, African Americans have no rights, Native Americans have no rights, blacks and whites can't marry. Shall I go on? Tradition. Such a lovely word, especially when it's used by the majority as an excuse to continue discriminating against the minority.

Whether you like it or not, the state issues marriage licenses, not a religion. Marriage is a civil institution that includes legal rights and responsibilities. Those rights and responsibilities are granted whether or not a mister or church was involved. The word marriage may have begun with a religious connotation but that time is long past. Your church doesn't own that word. The church I was raised in doesn't own that word. Churches that welcome and bless same-sex marriages don't own that word. No church or religion owns that word.

Biological reality? So, if two men shouldn't be allowed to marry because they can't procreate, then why are people past child-bearing age allowed to marry? Why are infertile people allowed to marry? Why are people who choose not to have children allowed to marry?

Marriage is not solely about procreation. You can choose to believe that, but I don't have to. I can be just as offended that you think marriage is solely about procreation as you are offended that I don't. Words change. The world changes. Traditions can be great things, but even traditions change.


Everything you write is about your rights, while you care nothing about others rights. You cannot point to a single society in history that claims "marriage" is between two adults of the same sex.

I have acknowledged now three times that the legal status we have traditionally referred to as marriage in this country needs to be re-evaluated and renamed civil unions. You would receive all the rights that "married" people would receive. But you're not happy with being treated "equally" you want to diminish an institution that many if not the vast majority of us believe is a sacred state created by God to foster families and contribute to the well being of society.

You are not entitled to rights that do not occur in the natural state of mankind. Men are men and women are women and two homosexuals can never procreate. IMO, the essence of homosexuality is love of self to the exclusion of the other gender. It's the ultimate act of self love.


How does a homosexual relationship diminish the institution of marriage? Does it make women less womanly? Or men less manly? Does it someone affect love and commitment between a man and a woman? Does it threaten your marriage? Are you that insecure? If EVERYONE is in a loving and committed relationship (hetero/homo) what is there to worry about??? Not sure why every says this threatens the sanctity of marriage. Or diminishes the institution of marriage. Can someone explain this??? I think everyone just keeps repeating it without even know WTF it means!


For thousands of years the "institution of marriage" has existed in human civilization and it has never been recognized as between people of the same gender. For the past 1000 years or more Western Civilization has recognized marriage or matrimony as a religious rite that became interwoven with civil law. In other words governments co-opted the institution of marriage because governments found the institution to be beneficial to stable societies.

Many of us believe marriages to be sacred and arise from vows made before God. I understand the argument that two people in a committed relationship should have the same legal rights as traditional marriages. My point is the state should not call them marriages (which is a religious term that the government co-opted) regardless of whether they are between men, women or a man and a women but civil unions.

Everybody has to obtain a government civil union license instead of a marriage license. People can go and be joined in a civil union in a civil ceremony.

It devalues the "Institution of Marriage" which was and should remain a religious rite by lowering the bar to entry. Just like there are a variety of Universities and they all award degrees, some universities have higher standards of acceptance and people aspire to a higher level of conduct and self control.

I am personally insulted and think men and women in general are demeaned that two men think they can replace the role of women in society and child rearing and two women think they can replace the role of men in society and child rearing. But that's what happens when society is all about the rights of an individual and loses sight of the rights of everyone else


Again...HOW does it devalue YOUR marriage or mine? Does it make you less of a person in your marriage????? Does it affect your marriage? Is it getting in the middle of YOUR bed and affect your sex life? Does it devalue your love or lessen it? Does it take your husband/wife away from you? Are you threaten by it? All you have is it"Lowers the bar"? You are insulted that two men or two women can raise a child BETTER than you? Because I know that I have personally seen some than can raise children ALOT better than some. There are stories EVERY day in this exact paper of some parents that are not MARRIED (by your exact definition in the religion meaning) that should never ever procreate. I mean they are definitely NOT parent of the year material. I also know some same sex couples that have children that are taken care of better than Prince George himself. So take your bible thumping self righteous bullsheet and hush.


What they or anyone else that views it as strictly a matter of a government license and civil ceremony have and not a matter of religion is not a "marriage" but a civil union recognized by the state.

I object to government co-opting "marriage" from religion where the institution began. You and everyone else can have their civil unions just don't describe it as marriage or holy matrimony because it isn't one.

We obviously disagree and there is no point to trying to persuade you or you to try to persuade me. I believe marriage to be created by God and a holy union between one man and one woman. You believe it to be a civil partnership, a type of business relationship set up for companionship.


No, I believe it to be between two people who love each other and vow to love, honor and cherish each other. LOVE is not a "business relationship". What I have is a MARRIAGE. I was married in a church to a man. I have a marriage license. I have a marriage certificate. No matter who else gets married, be it a man, woman, or even when the freaks who have little weird ceremonies for their dogs, I am still a married woman who is deeply committed to my marriage and my husband. It does not matter what you call it or who does it. I still do not understand why you are so bothered by who gets MARRIED or how it demeans you or your marriage.


Why were you "married" in a church to a man and vowed before God and your community if you do not believe in God's institution of marriage? Your "license" is a creation of government and ought to be renamed to a civil union license that's my point. Government co-opted "marriage" and devalues the institution of Holy Matrimony.


Well to be honest with you...I was legally married by the mayor of my home town in my mothers home. After my husband returned from overseas I "renewed my vows" in a church. This was more for the tradition and to keep our mothers happy. It really did not make a difference to me. My husband has different views on some things than I do and I respect them. Marriage is a compromise after all isn't it. I have a marriage. I am married. And like I have stated before. No matter WHO else is married it does not affect me. I am NOT devalued by anyone or anything. I just do not understand why you are so threatened by it. Not very secure in yourself or your marriage?


So you are a hypocrite and not credible. You wanted all the trappings of a Church wedding to keep people happy but you did not believe the vows you made before God.

Again, what you have in my opinion is a civil union created by the state not a marriage as defined by God. Why use a religious term to describe your partnership with your husband if you do not believe in its foundational tenets?

Thus, you appear to be insecure and in your "marriage". You desire the respect accorded the status of Holy Matrimony or Marriage for the sake of appearances and pleasing people but refuse to acknowledge its origins with the Creator.


I believe in the vows I made to my HUSBAND. I pledged my love to my husband. I made my mother happy. I am NOT insecure or threatened by anything. You are the one with issues about people using a word or certain people calling a marriage a marriage. Guess it really bothers you when those freaky ones in California let their dogs get married huh.


no comment


Tyranny is done by the government, not by the people. The majority of Ohio defined marriage as one man one woman.
Yes, we live in a republic where individual rights are suppose to be protected. We can see that isn't happening. I think we can all agree on that.




So commanding! Lol!!!


I still do not understand how they say a homosexual marriage somehow renders my heterosexual marriage meaningless. How does anyone else's marriage, relationship or bedroom habits have anything to do with me and my husband? How does it affect my marriage? Does it make me love less? Does it make my husband love less? Does it make me less of a woman? Or him less of a man? Does our 20 years not count the same as everyone elses? How does 2 men or 2 women getting married affect us or our marriage?

Stop It

Bible thumpers are control freaks lady. Plain and simple. They also believe in people getting swallowed by whales and living, women getting pregnant not by their husband, but he doesn't get bent and a big a$$ed boat that two of every animal cohabitating with all other species is viable.


Excellent comments, ladydye! These are people who always complain about "government intrusion", yet they think they should be able to tell someone else how to live, what they can/can't do in the privacy of their own bedroom. Jesus was a "Live and Let Live" kind of guy; how interesting that these supposed Christians are nothing like Jesus.


Das alte leid..........

Dr. Information

This is a Democracy correct? Put controversial stuff like this up for vote. If it is what the people want or don't want, let them decide.


Dr. Info. Why have anyone decide about the personal lives of others citizens as long as it does not harm anyone outside the household? Screw voting about the lifestyle choices of others, Its none of their business.


What the heck are people SO afraid of?? Gay marriage is not going to infringe on anyone unless they allow it to. Have "Christians" forgotten they had to fight to practice their religion way back in Roman times? At one time their way of life got them thrown to the lions. Did the "Christian" beliefs infringe on anything? Yes, because for some reason our God and bible became the ONLY thing that could be believed in for a religion and if you didn't you were going to hell. So how is that really any different than what the Romans believed in? Being thrown to the lions was bad enough, but one advantage to that was you died and "went to heaven", but the "Christian" way is if don't believe you go to hell for eternity.
So why is it such a huge deal that two people of the same sex be denied a marriage? Minds were changed over religion, and now "religion" is waved in everyone's faces that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that is the ONLY way.
There so many people out there that claim to live by our God Almighty's word but I know there is also a whole bunch of those same people that are about the most hypocritical people when it comes to their own lives and following the bible. They thump the bible out in public but behind closed doors it's a whole different story. And speaking of the bible and it's word... wasn't sex supposed to be solely for procreation? So if that is the case then heterosexuals are committing a whole lot of sin too.
Religion has become a much bigger of a source of power than it should be. It's supposed to make you feel good and love all no matter what, but it's become this "thing" that if you don't believe what I do then you're unholy and your soul is dammed. Gay marriage or honoring one that was done outside the state hurts no one...NO ONE! It's only because someone thinks their way is the only way that this is even an issue.
Oh and by the way... I consider myself a "Christian".


You can consider yourself whatever you want, but reality is another story. You sound like an agnostic to me.