Sign Up to Receive Email Action Alerts From Issa Exposed

Surprise Marriages in Ohio and Pennsylvania


By Matt Baume

It’s been a busy week, with marriages suddenly recognized in some unexpected states. But it’s unclear how long those victories will last. Meanwhile, state officials in other states are refusing to defend marriage bans. And as always, we have more favorable polling numbers.

Let’s start with Ohio this week, where a federal judge has ordered the state to recognize the marriage of a gay couple who flew to Maryland to get married. Specifically, the state must record the men as spouses when issuing a death certificate. They have been together for twenty years, but one is expected to pass away very soon.

Judge Timothy Black wrote that Ohio’s law exists to make gay couples unequal, which he called an “improper purpose.” It’s important to note that for now this only applies to out-of-state licenses. It doesn’t lift Ohio’s ban on issuing licenses to LGBT couples. But the ruling could bolster a future challenge to the law.

Despite initial reports to the contrary, State Attorney General Mike DeWine has said that he does not plan to appeal the ruling, which expires on August Fifth but could be extended before then.

And there’s plenty of legal turmoil next door in Pennsylvania, where a county Register of Wills announced that his office would issue marriage licenses. At least five couples took him up on the offer, but because Pennsylvania has a ban on marriage equality, it’s unclear whether the state will actually recognize them. The move echoes the licenses issued in 2004 by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Those licenses were eventually invalidated, but led to a court challenge that overturned California’s marriage ban in 2008.

State officials in New Mexico are debating the next move in a challenge to that state’s marriage ban. Two men in Santa Fe sued the state, and now Attorney General Gary King has announced that he won’t defend the ban. But there’s lots of procedural uncertainty surrounding the challenge, which may need to move to a lower court.

New York will begin issuing refunds to LGBT survivors who were improperly taxed on a deceased partner’s estate. A new marriage equality campaign in New Jersey is targeting Republican lawmakers in an attempt to override the governor’s marriage equality veto. And in Iowa, 55 percent of voters oppose an attempt to overturn marriage equality, with just 36 in favor of imposing a ban.

Having technical problems? Visit our support page to report an issue!