[JURIST] Federal judge Timothy Black [official profile] of the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] said Wednesday that Ohio must immediately recognize four same-sex marriages but stayed the broader effects of the ruling pending appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website]. Staying that portion of the ruling means that Ohio does not have to grant marriage benefits to all same-sex couples in Ohio, only the four couples listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Black ordered that Ohio immediately list both spouses as parents on their children's birth certificates, as all four couples are currently expecting a new child [AP report] to join their family by birth or adoption. Recognizing that same-sex marriage is "a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape," Black stated that he had issued the stay because "[p]remature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone's best interests." The appeals process over the stay will probably take months.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be a controversial issue in the United States, with only 17 states currently allowing them to be performed. Last Monday, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine [official website] determined [JURIST report] that a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would overturn its current ban on gay marriage had obtained the requisite number of signatures and satisfied the requirement that it be a "fair and truthful statement of the proposed law." Also on Monday, the Black ruled that Ohio must begin to recognize [JURIST report] same-sex marriages legally performed in another state, finding that refusal to do so violates the Due Process, Equal Protection and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the US Constitution. The ruling satisfies previous promises [JURIST report] made by Black to overturn the state's ban on the recognition of out of state marriages, though he has been careful when addressing the issue of same-sex couples being married within the state. Black has issued similar rulings in the past, such as a more limited decision in December that out-of-state legally performed same-sex marriages must be recognized on Ohio death certificates, prompting promises [JURIST report] by Dewine to appeal the decision to the Sixth Circuit.