Ohio appeals order on out-of-state gay marriages

File (MGN).
File (MGN).

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio officials on Friday appealed a federal judge’s order to recognize the marriages of gay couples who wed in other states.

The state attorney general’s office filed a notice of appeal with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. It will detail its arguments in a separate filing later.

The appeal is of Judge Timothy Black’s April 14 ruling ordering Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Most of the ruling was put on hold pending the anticipated appeal.

The judge ruled that Ohio’s refusal to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and is “unenforceable in all circumstances.”

“The record before this court … is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the judge wrote.

Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine has said that marriage is between a man and a woman and that he will continue defending Ohio’s voter-approved gay marriage ban, passed overwhelmingly in 2004.

The judge’s order stopped short of forcing Ohio to allow gay couples to marry in the state, but it forced Ohio to immediately recognize the same-sex marriages of four couples on their children’s birth certificates. The four couples were the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit and were the only same-sex couples in the state to see an immediate benefit from the judge’s ruling.

In a separate lawsuit filed April 30, attorneys are asking another federal judge to strike down Ohio’s gay-marriage ban as unconstitutional and force Ohio to allow same-sex couples to wed in the state. Such an order likely would be put on hold pending appeal.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Federal judges recently have struck down gay-marriage bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, though stays have been issued pending appeals.

Similar to the judge’s April 14 ruling in Ohio, judges in Kentucky and Tennessee have ordered state officials to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. Those orders also have been put on hold.

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