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Expedited Appeal for Ohio Gay Marriage Death Certificates Case?

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 20, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

One of these cases is not like the others. While many parties have challenged states' gay marriage bans generally, and others have targeted a state's refusal to recognize other states' same-sex couplings, the Ohio gay marriage case was especially narrow, focusing on the listing of one's spouse on his or her death certificate.

The plaintiffs, who were seeking recognition of their same-sex marriages (legally entered into in other states) on their deceased loved one's death certificates, triumphed in the district court. Now, they've asked the Sixth Circuit to expedite the appeal, reports Equality on Trial.

The Plaintiffs

The lawsuit was brought by James Obergefell and John Arthur. The couple sought recognition of their Maryland marriage on Arthur's death certificate. He passed away in October after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Original Verdict

In December, Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio to recognize all out-of-state gay marriages on death certificates, noting that the state recognized other marriages that would be illegal in the state (such as those involving cousins or minors). He also stated that the right to remain married, when crossing state lines, is recognized as a fundamental liberty in the Constitution, reports The Associated Press.

"When a state effectively terminates the marriage of a same-sex couple married in another jurisdiction, it intrudes into the realm of private marital, family, and intimate relations specifically protected by the Supreme Court," he held.

Despite the broad language and reasoning, Judge Black's opinion only applied to death certificates, not to recognition of same-sex marriage for other purposes.

Expedited Appeal

In their request to the Sixth Circuit, the plaintiffs in the Ohio case noted that an expedited appeal was ordered in the twin Tenth Circuit cases (challenging Utah and Oklahoma's bans) and in a recent Ninth Circuit case (challenging Nevada's ban, a case that is all-but-over after state officials dropped their defense of the ban).

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