Victory! Court Declares Ohio Ban on Recognizing Marriages of Same-Sex Couples Unconstitutional

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April 14, 2014
Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation Susan Sommer

In a strongly worded ruling, a federal court today declared Ohio’s ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples unconstitutional in all respects.

The opinion further extends “heightened scrutiny” – a high level of judicial review – to its review of the harms suffered by the children of same-sex parents when they are denied birth certificates listing both parents, and finds that the State of Ohio has no justification to discriminate against them in this way.

The Court also held that the state violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution by denying recognition to out-of-state adoption decrees and by refusing to amend the birth certificates of Ohio-born children.

This is the 10th consecutive ruling by a federal judge invalidating state bans on marriage recognition since the Supreme Court ruling in Windsor last June.

Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal's Director of Constitutional Litigation, says:

This is a great day for fairness and respect for Ohio families. This powerful opinion affirms what we have been arguing all along:  These couples’ marriages were disrespected by Ohio’s discriminatory laws, and created not only a second-class of families by nullifying legal marriages from other states, but also a second-class of parents, where one could be listed on a birth certificate and one could not. We’re thrilled for our plaintiff families and will continue to pursue relief for all same-sex couples and their children in Ohio.

The decision is stayed pending further briefing, but the judge has indicated that he will act very quickly on a decision about which, if any, portions of his ruling will continue to be stayed pending appeal.

Read the decision and learn more about the case.

Read the press release.