Are you a same-sex couple living in Ohio but legally married in another state?  Each of you will die some day and you will want your marriage properly recognized on your death certificate.  Last December a federal judge in Cincinnati ordered the Ohio Department of Health to recognize the marriages on the death certificates of two men who died in Ohio but were married out-of-state.  Their husbands were listed as the “surviving spouse “on their death certificates.

While the decision, Obergefell v. Wymyslo, was written broadly, the Court’s ruling was limited. It only directly applied to the two couples who brought the lawsuit, and to the funeral director, Robert Grunn, who handled the cremation of one of the men. The Ohio Department of Health has interpreted the Court’s decision narrowly and put out notice to funeral directors across the state that it only applies to death certificates filed by Robert Grunn. As a result, it is possible the Ohio Department of Health will only recognize marriages between same-sex couples on death certificates filed by Mr. Grunn and no other funeral directors. But the precedent is clear and all married same-sex couples should know their rights and make sure their marriages are recognized at death.

The Court’s ruling is in effect, but it is also on appeal. While the appeal is pending, the lawyers representing the plaintiffs want to know about the experiences of other married same-sex couples who seek recognition on death certificates in Ohio. If you are legally married, and your same-sex spouse dies, you can ask your funeral director to report your deceased spouse as “married “and yourself as the “surviving spouse. “If you do so, the plaintiffs’ lawyers want to know if your funeral director agrees or refuses, and if the state refuses to register death certificates recording your marriage or grants one. This information will help the lawyers argue the appeal in the Obergefell case and help ensure that all marriages between same-sex couples are soon recognized by the State of Ohio.

Please share your experiences with Adam Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch Co. LPA at (513) 621-9100 (513) 621-9100 or email him at  To learn more about the lawsuits now pending to secure marriage recognition in Ohio and to read the pleadings and orders visit

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