Judge orders Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay ‘marriage’ despite state’s marriage amendment
CINCINNATI, July 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A U.S. district judge has ordered a clerk in the state of Ohio to recognize a same-sex “marriage” conducted in another state, because the state's constitutional amendment defining marriages does “likely violate the U.S. Constitution.”
U.S. District Magistrate Timothy Black declared in his opinion on Monday that the “purpose served by” the amendment in “treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”
His words echoed last month's vituperous opinion from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Judge Black ordered a registrar in Cincinnati to affirm the partner of a terminally ill homosexual as his “husband” after their seven-minute “marriage” in Maryland, where same-sex “weddings” became legal last year.
The homosexual pair, James Obergefell and John Arthur, filed a lawsuit saying Ohio's marriage amendment violates the U.S. Constitution.
"This is not a complicated case," wrote Black. Since Ohio has recognized heterosexual marriages in other states that do not perfectly comply with state law, it must also recognize another state's gay “marriage,” he said.
Arthur suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), conventionally known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and is facing death. He and Obergefell flew to Maryland last week and held a ceremony on an airstrip at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI).
Arthur's aunt, Paulette Roberts, who was ordained on the internet, performed the nuptials, concluding, “I now pronounce you husband and husband, forever intertwined partners.”
The ceremony lasted seven minutes.
Roberts says she offered to marry the two several times, but they turned her down.
Arthur referred to their union as “symbolic.”
Obergefell told local Cincinnati media the litigation is trying to gain the government's approbation for their lifestyle. “We still want our government to say, 'You matter, you exist, and your relationship of 20 years – one year, whatever it is – matters as much as anyone else's,'” Obergefell said.
Judge Black ordered Cincinnati Health Department Registrar Camille Jones to list Obergefell as Arthur's “husband” on his death certificate. Although he believes the state's marriage amendment is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, Black's decision applies only to this case.
However, local activists believe that by approving the most sympathetic test case, the real goal is to invalidate all state laws against same-sex “marriage” nationwide.
“Judge Black is an Obama appointee,” Pendra Lee Snyder, the owner of a Christian marketing and publishing company in Ohio and an active member in the Value Action Committee in Columbus, told LifeSiteNews.com. “This is, in my opinion, a calculated effort at the chipping away of states' rights and in particular all states that voted to protect marriage as a union of one and and one woman.”
The homosexual couple is represented by Alphonse “Al” Gerhardstein of Gerhardstein & Branch LPA, the legal counsel for the local affiliate of Planned Parenthood.
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Gerhardstein, who specializes in filing lawsuits based on purported “discrimination,” boasts on his firm's website that it “has served as local counsel for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio for more than twenty years.” It has litigated to keep partial birth abortion legal, allow a Dayton abortion facility to stay open, help a female prisoner have an abortion, and affirm the conviction of pro-life protesters.
The firm also got a transgender police sargeant and a gay elementary school teacher reinstated, and vigorously defended Affirmative Action.
Gerhardstein is a supporter of “restorative justice” and has received awards from the NAACP, the Urban League, and the Jewish National Fund/Judge Carl B. Rubin Legal Society. The Unitarian-Universalist Justice Ohio Network certified Gerhardstein to be available as a “guest in your pulpit” during Unitarian worship services. He has also spoken at Xavier University, a Catholic institution.
Gerhardstein expressed his delight at the decision, calling Ohio's constitutional amendment “blatant discrimination” and “a denial of equal protection.”
If the amendment is legally challenged, Attorney General Mike DeWine, a moderate Republican, will have to decide whether to defend the law in court.
As a U.S. Senator in 2004, DeWine opposed the adoption of the amendment, along with then-U.S. Senator George Voinovich, then-Governor Bob Taft, and then-Attorney General Jim Petro, all Republicans.
DeWine was defeated in 2006; Voinovich retired; Taft became the first governor in history to be convicted of a crime after entering a “no contest” plea to multiple misdemeanor ethics charges; and Petro lost the 2006 gubernatorial primary to Ken Blackwell, a social conservative.
Governor John Kasich had no comment on the case, except that he believes marrige is between a man and a woman.