A federal judge on Monday ordered Ohio to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.
The Washington Post reports that Judge Timothy Black ruled that the state’s refusal to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and “unenforceable in all circumstances.”
“The record before this court ... is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” he wrote in his decision.
The ruling, however, is only a partial victory for supporters of gay rights. It does not force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed within its borders. Voters there banned gay marriage by referendum in 2004.
Black may still issue a stay of his ruling pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides will present arguments regarding the stay on Tuesday. The stay would not apply to the four couples who filed the lawsuit in February with Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein.
"This is a great day for many Ohio families,” Gerhardstein was quoted as saying in a USA Today story. ”Yesterday, they lived in a state that discriminated against them; today they live in a state that has declared them equal. Their marriages, the very foundations of their families, are recognized under the law. This ruling is a sweeping declaration in favor of same-sex marriage recognition.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he would appeal the ruling. In that appeal DeWine would be representing the Health Department which is part of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration.
"The governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, he supports Ohio's constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and we're glad the Attorney General is appealing the ruling,” said Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich’s administration.
The appeal will go to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Ultimately, the Sixth Circuit is going to decide this case, and maybe even the United States Supreme Court," DeWine said.
The Sixth Circuit is also waiting to hear similar cases out Kentucky and Tennessee. The decision in Kentucky has been stayed pending the appeal and the Tennessee case only applies to three couples.
In Ohio Gerhardstein has chalked Black’s decision up as a victory and has said he plans to file a lawsuit in a couple of weeks to force Ohio to allow marriages of same-sex couples to be performed within the state.