On April 14th, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black issued a much-anticipated ruling requiring Ohio to legally recognize all marriages that have been validly performed in other states. The case stems from a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the state's 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban.
"Ohio's bans that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex marriages validly entered in other states ... violate the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,"
- District Judge Timothy Black.
However, the decision does not mean Ohio must now allow same-sex couples to marry, as the judge considered this question to be outside of the immediate scope of the current lawsuit.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the fundamental question of whether a state may or may not deny LGBT couples that right, most legal experts agree that it is only a matter of time before it rules such bans are unconstitutional. The basis for this confidence is the recent case United States of America v. Windsor, in which the Court ruled that the federal government must legally recognize same-sex marriages that have been validly performed in any of the 50 U.S. states.
Perhaps taking a cue from this decision - or not wishing to be overturned on appeal - no federal court has upheld a state ban on same-sex marriage since the Windsor case was decided.
Just to give an idea of how drastically opinions on this subject have evolved, consider this: An Ohio poll taken in March and commissioned by the Columbus Dispatch, found that 54% of Ohioans would be in favor of an amendment to legalize marriage equality in the state, while only 40% would oppose such a measure.
Compare these results to 2004, when 62% of Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibited the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.
When it comes to the question of whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage, at least in Ohio, many voters certainly seem to have changed their minds over the past 10 years.
Winograd and Schwartz Attorneys at Law, PC