Pump the brakes: Same-sex marriages won't be recognized in Ohio just yet.
So ruled a federal judge in Ohio on Wednesday, joining a growing number of federal courts around the country to condemn parts of same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional only to then put their own rulings on hold. Everyone, it seems, is waiting to see how the highest courts in America will rule.
U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black's personal stance is pretty clear: On Monday, he ordered Ohio to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by four lesbian couples.
But on Wednesday, he stayed that ruling while the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the issue.
The matter seems destined to end at the U.S. Supreme Court. But until then, judges around the country have been blasting marriage bans in their own rulings while acknowledging that they will not get to have the final say.
"The arc of the moral universe is long, [but it bends] toward justice," Black wrote Wednesday, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.'s famed statement while noting that the state's refusal to acknowledge gay marriages was probably doomed.
However, allusions to America's civil-rights history aside, Black, like other federal judges, said the need for higher courts to rule on same-sex marriage outweighed granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry immediately.
"Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone's best interests," Black wrote. "The federal appeals courts need to rule, as does the United States Supreme Court."
The Los Angeles Times has previously analyzed why Black and other federal judges are being so cautious, which you can read about here. Mostly, the courts don't want to see a bunch of same-sex couples run off to get married in case the courts later rule that marriage bans are OK.
But Black made one exception to his stay: He ordered Ohio to issue new birth certificates to the children of the four couples, listing their parents as being lawfully wedded.
Three of the four couples who brought suit live in the Cincinnati area. 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.
Times staff writer Michael Muskal contributed to this report.
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