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Judge weighs stay in Ohio recognition of same-sex marriage case

A federal judge in Cincinnati could decide as soon as Tuesday whether to grant a stay on his ruling in a same-sex marriage case involving Ohio recognition of such unions performed in other states.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black on Monday ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states but indicated in his decision that he is inclined to issue a stay of that decision while the case is appealed. He gave the parties until Tuesday afternoon to file their motions for a stay and said he would act on the issue quickly.

“Plaintiffs shall file today their memorandum contra Defendants’ oral motion to stay, and Defendants shall file a reply memorandum before 3:00 p.m.,” on Tuesday, the judge wrote in his more than 40-page decision.  The Court shall then rule expeditiously.”

It was unknown whether he would rule on Tuesday, according to a court spokesperson.

If Black grants the stay, there would be no immediate impact on same-sex couples while the case is being considered by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the judge denies the stay, Ohio would immediately have to recognize the marriages of the four couples which brought the suit and the state would have to list both spouses as parents on their children's birth certificates.

“Birth certificates are vitally important documents,” Black wrote. “Ohio's refusal to recognize plaintiffs' and other same-sex couples' valid marriages imposes numerous indignities, legal disabilities, and psychological harms. Further, the state violates plaintiffs' and other same-sex couples' fundamental constitutional rights to marry, to remain married, and to function as a family.”

Three of the four couples who brought suit live in the Cincinnati area. They're all women and one spouse in each relationship is pregnant and due to give birth this summer. The fourth couple lives in New York City but adopted their child from Ohio.

Black's order does not force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state, though such a suit is expected. At least seven states are involved in lawsuits seeking to overturn state bans on same-sex marriages.

At present, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages while some other states have granted some form of recognition to same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

 

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