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CINCINNATI, OH, April 17, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Monday, an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled that Ohio authorities must recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted outside the state. Ohio currently bans such unions.

Judge Timothy Black additionally called the state’s marriage amendment, passed by a 62 percent majority in 2004, “unconstitutional” and “unenforceable.” However, Black’s decision would not overturn the state’s gay “marriage” ban.

Gay “marriage” supporters are hailing Black’s decision as a further step towards legalizing same-sex unions in Ohio. 

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Civil rights lawyer Al Gerhardstein praised Black’s ruling.  Gerhardstein has filed three gay “marriage” lawsuits in Ohio since June.

“This is a great day for many Ohio families,” Gerhardstein said. “Yesterday, they lived in a state that discriminated against them; today they live in a state that has declared them equal. Their marriages, the very foundations of their families, are recognized under the law. This ruling is a sweeping declaration in favor of same-sex marriage recognition.” 

Though Black’s ruling would not legalize same-sex “marriage,” Gerhardstein hopes to file a lawsuit within the next two weeks seeking to do just that.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine plans to appeal the ruling because of the overwhelming public support for traditional marriage, demonstrated in the 2004 passage of the state’s gay “marriage” ban.

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“My job as attorney general is to defend statutes and defend Ohio's constitutional provisions,” he said. “This was voted on by voters so my job is to do that.”

In his ruling, however, Black cited the Supreme Court ruling West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette from 1943, which stated that “fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich supports DeWine’s appeal.  Kasich’s spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement, “The governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, he supports Ohio's constitutional ban on same sex marriage, and we're glad the Attorney General is appealing the ruling.”

Democrat Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley praised Black’s ruling.  “Life's too short and cruel to keep people from loving each other,” he said.

The ruling comes as little surprise to the public, as Black has voiced his opinion in the past concerning how he would rule.  However, he has issued a temporary stay on the ruling in order to allow attorneys on both sides of the issue to organize legal briefs in preparation for the impending appeal.

According to same-sex “marriage” supporters, this delay in ruling provides uncertainty for many couples desiring to get married out of state.

“A lot of folks are watching this and saying, 'Am I going to get married this week? And if so, will that marriage be recognized next week?'” said Ian James, executive director of FreedomOhio, a group whose goal is to make same-sex “marriage” legal in Ohio.

Phil Buress, chairman of Citizens for Community Values Action, the group that put the 2004 marriage amendment on the ballot, said that Judge Black is abusing his judicial power by overriding the explicit opinion of the voters.

“It's another example of homosexual activists using sympathetic judges and the courts as a blunt instrument to force a redefinition of marriage and family on the people of Ohio,” he said in a statement. “It seems clear that when advocates of 'marriage equality' cannot convince the people and win at the ballot box, they resort to the courts and judicial fiat.”

Black is the latest of many federal judges to strike down state marriage laws.  Most recently, federal judges have struck down marriage amendments in Virginia, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Michigan.  Each decision has been stayed pending appeals.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex “marriage.”

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