Editor’s note: Apologies — video at bottom will start automatically.
A federal judge has just ordered the state of Ohio to recognize a same-sex couple’s marriage, noting that not doing so would likely be considered discrimination and therefore unconstitutional. While the judge’s ruling does not invalidate Ohio’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the wording of the judge’s ruling certainly calls it into question.
On July 11, after spending 20 years together, John Arthur and James Obergefell were married in Maryland, where same-sex marriage became legal this year. John Arthur is terminally ill with ALS, and the couple flew to Maryland to marry before Arthur’s death.
The couple had “hoped to be buried next to each other, to spend eternity together, but the state of Ohio and his spouse’s relatives won’t let him – because he married another man, John Arthur,” Cincinnati.com reports:
Without that official designation as Arthur’s spouse, Obergefell told Black, he won’t be able to be buried with him in Spring Grove Cemetery. Arthur’s family plots are in that cemetery and his grandfather previously stipulated in documents that only the family’s direct descendents and their spouses can be buried in the family plot. With Black’s ruling, Obergefell can be buried next to Arthur.
“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.
They then filed a lawsuit in federal court against Ohio Governor John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the state doctor responsible for approving death certificates, to ensure their marriage was recognized by their legal state of residence before Arthur passed away.
Federal U.S. District Magistrate Judge Timothy Black has just ordered the state of Ohio to recognize the couple’s marriage.
“Black found that the Ohio Constitution on the issue ‘violates rights secured by the … United States Constitution in that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where same sex marriages are valid who seek to have their out-of-state marriage accepted as legal in Ohio are treated differently than opposite sex couples who have been married in states where their circumstances allow marriage in that state but not in Ohio,’” Cincinnati.com also reported.
“According to the order, Obergefell and Arthur live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and ‘have been living together in a committed and intimate relationship for more than twenty years,’” Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed adds:
The order also notes “they were very recently legally married in the state of Maryland pursuant to the laws of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage.”
“The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in an order Monday.
Theoretically, this ruling could be the first step in tossing out as unconstitutional Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage, but it’s important to note the ruling is a temporary restraining order and can only be applied, at least for now, to John Arthur and James Obergefell.
10:00 PM UPDATE via Buzzfeed:
“We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told BuzzFeed.
Below video we’ve added the actual ruling.
Watch this heartbreaking and beautiful video from Cincinnati.com, including the wedding of John Arthur and James Obergefell:
Image: screenshot from Cincinnati.com video
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