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UPDATED: Federal Judge Orders Ohio To Recognize Same-Sex Couple’s Marriage

by David Badash on July 22, 2013

in News

Post image for UPDATED: Federal Judge Orders Ohio To Recognize Same-Sex Couple’s Marriage

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,” 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,’” 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.

Stay tuned.

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, including the wedding of John Arthur and James Obergefell:

Obergefell v. Kasich

Image: screenshot from video

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Goose09 July 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Great story, although it is regrettable that it is only known to us through the circumstances at hand. I hope that your days together are wonderful and full of the love that I'm sure you've shared for the last twenty years. We should only be so lucky to get to spend the last days beside our spouse in happiness and reflection. I wish you both the best of luck.

lzambeni July 22, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Congratulations! I hope this court order holds and you bring about the beginning of the end of this cruel legal inequity! And thank you for your efforts on behalf of us all!

bandanajack July 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

may youR last days together be the proverbial BLAZE OF GLORY!

DesertSandwitch July 23, 2013 at 1:59 am

Blessed Be to you both.

Jimmyidiotbanks July 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm

At least Ohio is not as bad as the confederate flag worshipping ku klux klan marching deep deep south of north Florida. This lesbian judge is now required to recognize same sex marriages from other states but refuses to recognize opposite sex marriages from other states. This story is rapidly hitting the national news.

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