Federal Judge Weighing Ohio Gay Marriage Fight
A federal judge on Wednesday questioned the constitutionality of Ohio’s ban on gay marriage and whether state officials have the authority to refuse to recognize the marriages of gay couples who wed in other states.
Judge Timothy Black’s comments came as he heard arguments in federal court in Cincinnati over whether gay marriage should be recognized on Ohio death certificates despite a statewide constitutional ban.
Although Black’s decision, expected within two weeks, only will pertain to the recognition of gay marriage on Ohio death certificates, he noted that "in the real world out there, the stakes are larger," and that his upcoming ruling could serve as starting point for further litigation seeking gay marriage to be recognized in Ohio.
Black cited a prediction by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote in a strong dissenting opinion in June that "no one should be fooled" by the court majority’s decision to strike down part of an anti-gay marriage law.
"It is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe (to drop)," Scalia wrote. "The majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition."
Said Black on Wednesday, "The shoe dropped and now it’s here, and I’m required to follow the law of the United States Supreme Court."
"Politicians say, ’I’ll leave this to the states,’" but if the United States Supreme Court said the federal government cannot fail to recognize valid same-sex marriages, why can the states?" Black asked Bridget Coontz, the state’s attorney arguing against allowing gay couples’ marriages to be recognized on Ohio death certificates.