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Judge expands scope of Ohio marriage equality lawsuit

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Ohio state sealA judge in Ohio yesterday expanded a lawsuit filed by two couples seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized on death certificates to include all couples in similar situations. The AP reports:

Attorneys are now asking federal Judge Timothy Black to require Ohio’s health department director to order funeral directors and coroners to list gay clients as married if they were legally wed in another state.

Black approved a request to expand the lawsuit on Wednesday and is expected to issue a ruling in December.

A spokesman for Ohio Department of Health Director Theodore Wymyslo said departmental policy is to not comment on pending litigation.

In late July, federal Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio to recognize an out-of-state marriage between John Arthur and James Obergefell for the purposes of Arthur’s death certificate.  Arthur has ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and is in hospice.  “The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples,” Black wrote in his order, “is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

Earlier this month, Black ordered Ohio officials to recognize a second same-sex couple’s marriage for the purposes of a death certificate.  In response to the judge’s actions, Ohio Rep. John Becker, a Republican, has called for Black to be impeached, describing his actions as an “abuse of power” and accusing the judge of “allowing his personal political bias to supersede jurisprudence.”

It is almost certain that Black’s decisions will be appealed.

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