U.S. District Court Judge puts on hold Ohio gay marriage ruling for all but 4 couples who sued


COLUMBUS — A federal judge in Cincinnati today put on hold his own broad ruling requiring Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

But U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black refused to delay the application of his ruling specifically for four legally married same-sex couples who sued. He ordered the state to issue birth certificates to the couples with both spouses' names listed for children born or expected to be born soon in Ohio.

Judge Black, a Democrat appointed by President Obama, agreed with the state that most decisions overturning all or part of same-sex marriage bans have been stayed pending the outcome of appeals. Ultimately, the issue is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Court acknowledges that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if [the state’s] appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay as to this Court’s ruling of facial unconstitutionality is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity, and high costs,” Judge Black wrote in part.

“Premature celebration and confusion to not serve anyone’s best interests,” he wrote.

But the same argument does not apply to the three female couples and one male couple who were legally married in California, New York, and Massachusetts who seek recognition on birth certificates.

The couples, he wrote, “have demonstrated that a stay will irreparably harm them individually due to the imminent births of their children and other time-sensitive concerns (as well as due to the continuing Constitutional violations).”

Unlike the recent federal decision in Michigan, Judge Black did not wholly overturn Ohio’s voter-approved ban in its state constitution requiring that marriage be between a man and a woman. His ruling did not open the door for same-sex marriages to occur in Ohio, but it did undermine a second portion of the 2004 constitutional amendment that prohibits government from extending rights approximating those of marriage to same-sex or unmarried couples.