Cincinnati, Ohio. December 23, 2013. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black ruled today that Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states is unconstitutional. Judge Black entered a permanent junction and granted a declaratory judgment to the Plaintiffs. The immediate result of this ruling is that Plaintiffs James Obergefell and David Michener will be permanently recognized as the surviving spouses of John Arthur and William Ives on their Ohio Death certificates. Plaintiff Robert Grunn, a funeral director in Cincinnati, will also be able to continue his practice of recognizing same-sex marriages of his clients on the death certificates that he files with the State of Ohio. The decision will have a broader impact since marriage recognition reaches into every aspect of a couple’s life.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Al Gerhardstein said, “Ohio must now recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries. This is a first and the start of something very big! John Arthur and William Ives will rest in peace. Their love has survived death, and now it has changed the law. This is a good day for love and a big step toward total marriage equality in Ohio.”
The Final Order finds that Ohio law and the DOMA constitutional amendment violated the rights of same-sex couples legally married in other states who seek to have their out-of-state marriages recognized and accepted in Ohio. The Court declared Ohio and the DOMA amendment unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs. Ohio must recognize Plaintiffs’ marriages on death certificates by stating they were “married “or “widowed “and shall acknowledge plaintiffs as “surviving spouses. ” The decision also declares that funeral director Robert Grunn, also a plaintiff, may report a decedent married in a state authorizing same-sex marriage is married or widowed and report the name of the decedent’s surviving spouse on all death certificates he completes. Finally, the Court enjoined the director of the Ohio Department of Health from enforcing Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban with respect to death records.
Plaintiffs are represented by Al Gerhardstein, Jacklyn Gonzales Martin, Jennifer Branch, and Lisa Meeks.