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Judge to end Ohio ban on recognizing gay marriage

A federal judge says he will strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, meaning the state must recognize marriages of gay couples who legally wed elsewhere
CINCINNATI —A federal judge says he will strike down Ohio's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, meaning the state must recognize marriages of gay couples who legally wed elsewhere.

Ohio authorities on Thursday appealed a federal judge's ruling that ordered them to recognize gay marriages on death certificates and criticized the state's ban on such unions as demeaning "the dignity of same-sex couples in the eyes of the state and the wider community."

Judge Timothy Black made the statement Friday following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.

"I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio's recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Black said. "(They're) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."

He says he'll issue the ruling April 14 prohibiting Ohio officials from enforcing the ban, which he says violates constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. Black's ruling will not mean Ohio has to allow couples to marry in the state.

Three lesbian couples were suing for an order requiring Ohio to place the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their newborns. Attorneys for the couples said that in Ohio, a husband is named on a child’s birth certificate and legally recognized as the “natural father” even when his wife becomes pregnant through artificial insemination and he is not a biological parent. The couples seek the same treatment, the attorneys say.

Pam and Nicole Yorksmith, a Cincinnati couple who married in California in 2008 and have a 3-year-old son, were among the four couples who filed the lawsuit challenging the gay marriage ban and said Black's comments Friday gave them validation.

"It also validates to our kids that we're bringing into our marriage that their parents are recognized by the state that we live in, and that's extremely important," Pam Yorksmith said. "We're teaching kids of future generations that all families are different and just because our family doesn't look like your family doesn't mean that ours shouldn't be recognized."

Nicole Yorksmith is pregnant through artificial insemination with the couple's second child and is due in June.

Attorneys for the state had argued that it's Ohio's sole province to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

By announcing his intention ahead of his ruling, Black gives time for the state to prepare an appeal that can be filed as soon as he rules.

Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio's attorney general, said the state will appeal Black's order when it comes out but declined to comment further.
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