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BREAKING: Federal judge anticipates striking down Ohio’s ban on recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Ohio state sealIn an order following a hearing today, a federal district court judge in Ohio has said that he “anticipates striking down as unconstitutional under all circumstances Ohio’s bans on recognizing legal same-sex marriages from other states.”

The decision is expected to come down “on or before 4/14”, when a written opinion will be issued. The judge has previously struck down the non-recognition provisions as applied to certain situations such as death certificates, but the plaintiffs in Henry v. Wymyslo asked the judge to strike down the ban as it applies to recognition of all out-of-state same-sex marriages.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing

26 Comments

  • 1. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Eh? I thought the Plaintiffs in this case only wanted recognition on birth certificates? Did they amend their complaint at some point? (Not that this isn't fantastic news, but I'm just a bit confused.) No word on a stay? Did the State at least ask for a stay this time?

    Also, I wonder if an appeal of this case could be expedited so it can be consolidated with the Obergefell appeal (the death certificate recognition case out of Ohio).

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    They asked the judge to declare the ban facially unconstitutional http://www.scribd.com/doc/215796106/1-14-cv-00129

    This was only a recent request though. You're right about the original suit.

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:37 am

    There isn't a stay yet because the judge won't issue the ruling until at least 4/14.

  • 4. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Understood, but did they bother to ask for one during today's hearing, like Michigan did at the end of the trial? And did Black comment on whether he would or wouldn't grant a stay in his upcoming order?

  • 5. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Not as far as I've heard.

  • 6. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    “on or before 4/14″ means on or AFTER 4/14?

  • 7. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    yeah, oops. It says on or before. So it could come earlier than 4/14. Still, no stay request.

  • 8. Lymis  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Not a lawyer.

    But its not uncommon in cases like this for a judge to look at a limited application of a statute in the case, and then say that yes, that statute has to fall because it violates a sweeping and fundamental requirement of the US Constitution.

    When that happens, the plaintiffs get relief for their particular complaint, but the reason for that ruling can have broad applications in other situations. If the "only" reason, or even the primary reason that something like recognition on birth certificates is required is that such discrimination is always and everywhere invalid, then everything else falls with it.

  • 9. davep  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Excellent news!

  • 10. ragefirewolf  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Okay. Excuse me for being extra derp today, but if there's a facial challenge to the law and it's ruled unconstitutional, how can it be constitutional to not allow Ohio marriages in-state? I am so lost about this weird outside recognition and inside practice dichotomy. Is it because of the plaintiffs' standing? If they expressed a desire to marry in-state, would that be sufficient to warrant the full enjoining of the whole kit and caboodle? I need help here. Ragavendran or Scottie or someone?

  • 11. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I guess Judge Black had to draw the line somewhere. The urge to strike down the entire ban as unconstitutional must be balanced with the important principle of judicial restraint. While Judge Black jumped on the opportunity to strike down the marriage-recognition part of the ban entirely as soon as the Plaintiffs amended their complaint and asked for it, he had to restrain himself from going further and striking down the ban entirely without a challenge to that part of the law. I hope someone with standing to challenge the in-state marriage ban intervenes now and asks for precisely that, just like Love et al. did in Kentucky. I'm sure Judge Black would allow such Plaintiffs to intervene and quickly move to summary judgment there. The question is, why has that not happened yet? Baffles me.

  • 12. ragefirewolf  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you, Ragavendran

  • 13. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I don't think the ban on performing marriages in the state was even challenged, so the judge can't rule on it. But I mean this decision will probably mean that one requiring the state to perform marriage is more likely.

  • 14. ragefirewolf  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you, Scottie

  • 15. Kevin  |  April 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Judge Black is not engaged in line-drawing. The question of whether one may rule on a constitutional question when adequate statutory grounds for adjudication exist is settled law, not a matter of discretion. It is called the rule of constitutional avoidance.

  • 16. ragefirewolf  |  April 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you, Kevin, but if you could explain that a little more plainly, that would help. Like I said, I'm extra derp today. Trying to get over a nasty case of strep. 🙁

  • 17. Kevin  |  April 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Sure, when a judge is presented with a complaint that presents two overlapping issues 1) a statutory issue (a regular law, just like your local, county, and state codes) and 2) a constitutional issue, and the suit can be adjudicated on statutory grounds alone, then the judge must refrain from deciding the constitutional question. Similarly, when Congress passes legislation, federal courts reviewing those statutes must defer to constitutional interpretations of them when reasonable. Either way, the judge does not have discretion to reach the merits of the case.

  • 18. Pat  |  April 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I was wondering the same. Actually if the plaintiffs amended their complaint to challenge the recognition of out-of-state marriages, couldn't they have actually gone further and ask the judge to answer the question of the in-state marriage ban? At first sight, it seems like a lost opportunity to kill 2 birds in 1 stone.

  • 19. davep  |  April 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Not if they have already legally married in another state. They would have standing to challenge their marriage not being recognized by Ohio, but only a couple who have tried to marry in Ohio and been denied a marriage license and who are not married in another state would be deemed to have standing to challenge the part of the law that denies a marriage license to couples seeking to marry in Ohio. So it looks like another couple in that situation should join this suit, pronto, to challenge that portion of the law. At least that's my understanding of it.

  • 20. Christian  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    As good of news as this is, I am soooo ready for an appeals court to finally make a ruling. The district courts seem to zip through proceedings but when they get to the appeals court time and space comes to a halt.

  • 21. ragefirewolf  |  April 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Isn't that annoying? Appeals courts are SO SLOW, OMG. Dip me in molasses, snails, turtles, and sloths! GEEZ.

  • 22. ebohlman  |  April 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Most of them are a lot faster than the Ninth Circuit, which had the best-known cases (Perry and Sevcik). Many of the DOMA appeals leading up to Windsor were fairly quick.

  • 23. Stefan  |  April 5, 2014 at 1:46 am

    We should be getting an announcement of a hearing date in Sevik at anytime now, though it will likely be held during the week of May 12th.

  • 24. ebohlman  |  April 5, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Source?

  • 25. Stefan  |  April 6, 2014 at 1:52 am

    It's the next available hearing date on their calendar, although they could schedule a special date before then.

  • 26. Equality On TrialBREAKING&hellip  |  April 14, 2014 at 8:14 am

    […] Black has issued his anticipated ruling in Obergefell v. Wymyslo, challenging Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages […]

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