UPDATE (April 14, 2014): U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black formalized his ruling requiring the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Black stayed the ruling pending appeal, meaning it would have no immediate impact on Ohio couples. Lawyers for both sides are preparing to file arguments for and against putting the ruling into immediate effect.
OUR EARLIER STORY: A federal judge in Ohio announced today he planned to strike down the state’s ban on gay marriage, approved by voters in 2004.
Judge Timothy Black made his decision at the end of closing arguments in a case challenging the ban’s constitutionality. The ruling will not force the state to perform same-sex marriages but will demand officials recognize gay couples married legally in other states.
“I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio’s recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Black said. “[They’re] denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married.”
Although Black’s decision won’t open the door for legalized same-sex marriage in Ohio right away, advocates say it will make that legal fight much easier. The state’s attorneys argued striking down the ban would “disregard the will of Ohio voters, and undercut the democratic process.”
Black announced his ruling before actually issuing it, giving lawyers for the state the chance to prepare an appeal immediately.