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Plaintiffs in Ohio marriage equality case ask Sixth Circuit for expedited appeal

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The plaintiffs who brought the challenge to Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state are asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to put the appeal of the lower court’s decision on a faster briefing and argument track.

The district court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a narrow decision that applies only to the recognition of the plaintiffs’ legal same-sex marriages for purposes of recording death certificates. As EqualityOnTrial noted at the time:

The Ohio lawsuit was originally brought by one couple, James Obergefell and John Arthur, seeking recognition of their Maryland marriage on a death certificate for Arthur, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and died in October. Judge Black ruled in the couple’s favor, later expanding the case to include another same-sex couple and eventually to include all similarly situated couples in Ohio.

The decision was appealed by the state last month.

The new request is for “an expedited briefing schedule and argument at the earliest available date following completion of briefing.” The plaintiffs point to the Tenth Circuit’s decision to expedite the Utah and Oklahoma appeals, and hold argument at the earliest possible time, in April. The brief also points to the recent Ninth Circuit order granting a request for a fast hearing in Lambda Legal’s marriage case. And they suggest that, particularly in this situation, where death certificates are implicated, there’s an even greater need to resolve the issue quickly:

The Plaintiff couples continue to live with fear that the last legal document recording their marriages may be altered (the state repeatedly indicated that death certificates can be amended, see e.g., Doc. 11, Page ID 84) by the state to erase their marriages depending on the outcome of this case. Hastening resolution of these issues is important both for them and for the thousands of same-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit whose lawful marriages are not recognized by their home state.

If the request is granted, the Sixth Circuit would join the Ninth and Tenth in choosing to resolve these marriage equality challenges in a quick fashion.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing

For more information on Obergefell v. Wymyslo from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. grod  |  February 18, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Scottie: Judge T Black first & second finding – "Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction (Doc. 53) is hereby GRANTED as applied to these Plaintiffs. Specifically: _1._ The Court finds and declares that Article 15, Section 11, of the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C), violate rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is lawful, who seek to have their out-of-state marriage recognized and accepted as legal in Ohio, are denied their fundamental right to marriage recognition without due process of law and are denied their fundamental right to equal protection of the laws when Ohio does recognize comparable heterosexual marriages from other jurisdictions, even if obtained to circumvent Ohio law.
    2. Defendants and their officers are permanently enjoined from enforcing Ohio’s marriage recognition bans on Plaintiffs. This includes such officials completing death certificates as the need arises for Plaintiffs in a manner consistent with this Order p 48.
    I'm uncertain if "this includes" means this is "limited to". Your note above plaintiffs being all Ohioans similarly situated… If a state amendment or statues violates the USA Constitution is not that amendment and stature ultra vires? Isn't that a big deal? I do not think Judge Black's 'finding' was only about the dead and their surviving spouses. He made a big deal out of the right to remain married.and the right to marriage recognized. Both are aspects of the fundamental right to liberty -a right no state or people's majority can abridge.

  • 2. sfbob  |  February 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    While Judge Black's decision states that his decision applies specifically to the plaintiffs, it is very hard to see (and Black even notes this) why his decision would not be applicable to all Ohio couples married out of state and, even more, why the reasoning behind his decision would not apply just as thoroughly to Ohio's marriage equality ban in its entirety.

  • 3. grod  |  February 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Bob: "Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C), violate rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution". There are 4 articles to C – directed mainly at same sex couples.. Article 1 related to in state marriages, Article 2 to out of state marriages, Article 3 to In- state statutory benefits, and Article 4 Out of State benefits that would not have force in Ohio. At face did Black strike Section C? Why did he not state #101.01 (C [2]) ?

  • 4. grod  |  February 18, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Bob Just what did Judge Black strike from Amendment 15.11 sentence 1? Sentence 2 relates to cu or dp, so it can be ignored, So again, what in that sentence 1 can be parsed out?
    Utah has taught us that you could not remove "recognized' as it have valid in state-marriage that are not recognized. What?

  • 5. sfbob  |  February 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Based on the wording you quoted above, it would appear that the judge intended for his ruling to strike Article 2, at least as applied specifically to the plaintiffs. Article 1 was not being challenged and therefore his decision did not address it, however I believe his decision also strongly indicated that the entire law was unconstitutional and that a challenge could readily be upheld using the same reason as he included in his opinion.

  • 6. Dave  |  February 18, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Since this is a post about Ohio, I want to renew my request for information from any Ohioans: What is going on with the group called FreedomOhio? They claim to have collected 650,000 signatures, more than enough to put marriage on the ballot in Ohio in 2014. If they really have the signatures, this would be the biggest and most important election fight since Prop 8.

    But I see very little evidence that this is true. Apparently, they refused to show the petitions to a local paper. And they have very little money and no support from any other organization. OTOH, they are a real group and there clearly has been at least some petitioning activity. Also, I find it hard to believe that they would make this claim to the press repeatedly if they didn't have the signatures in hand.

    Does anyone know what is going on?

  • 7. Ned_Flaherty  |  February 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Dave, the latest known status of both Ohio ballot measures (and all other state ballot measures) can always be found at Marriage Equality USA:

    Ned Flaherty, Projects Manager

  • 8. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  February 19, 2014 at 7:46 am

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  • 9. Equality On TrialState de&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 12:20 am

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