Federal judge orders same-sex spouse listed on death certificate

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] on Tuesday issued an order allowing a Cincinnati man to be listed as "spouse" on the death certificate of his late husband. While the state constitution of Ohio [text] prohibits same-sex marriage, state law does recognize marriages solemnized outside of the state. David Michener and William Herbert Ives were married in Delaware this July [AP report] after having been together for 18 years. Ives died suddenly last week and is survived by Michener and their three adopted children. This marks the second time in two months Judge Timothy Black [official profile] has recognized an out-of-state same-sex marriage license, ruling in favor of a same-sex couple on similar grounds in a July decision [JURIST report]. Relying upon the US Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor [opinion, PDF], handed down in June, Black could not find a legitimate state interest [Reuters report] in the denial of Michener's request for Ives to be listed as "married" on the death certificate.

The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Last month Pennsylvania officials filed suit [JURIST report] in an attempt to halt the Montgomery County Register of Wills [official website] from continuing to issue same-sex marriage licenses in the county. In July the San Diego County Clerk filed a petition [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court of California on Friday seeking to require county clerks to enforce Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban. Also in July three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging Arkansas' same-sex marriage ban. The plaintiffs argue that Amendment 83 to the Arkansas Constitution, which reads, "Marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman," violates their rights to equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

 

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