Gay Marriage Is Now Legal in Ohio (For Dead People)

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 23 2013 3:12 PM

Gay Marriage Is Now Legal in Ohio (For Dead People, Anyway)

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Same-sex couple Jen and Francis Rainin react during their wedding at San Francisco's City Hall in California on Friday, June 28, 2013

Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The good news keeps coming for marriage equality advocates, this time out of Ohio, via the Associated Press:

A federal judge Monday ordered Ohio authorities to recognize gay marriages on death certificates, saying the state's ban on such unions is unconstitutional and that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples simply because some voters don't like homosexuality. Although Judge Timothy Black's ruling applies only to death certificates, his statements about Ohio's gay-marriage ban are sweeping, unequivocal, and are expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
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The ruling is a relatively narrow one, although the case would appear ripe to eventually wind its way to the Supreme Court, which in the wake of its DOMA-dismantling United States v. Windsor ruling has so far resisted offering the final word on state-level bans on gay marriage.

As has become something of appellate style these days, Black made sure to cite Antonin Scalia's Windsor dissent in today's ruling. "And now it is just as Justice Scalia predicted," wrote Black, referring to the conservative justice's question about just much the high-profile decision would ultimately impact state laws. "The lower courts are applying the Supreme Court's decision, as they must, and the question is presented whether a state can do what the government cannot — i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples ... simply because the majority of the voters don't like homosexuality (or at least didn't in 2004)," Black wrote in reference to Ohio's gay marriage ban that passed nearly a decade ago. "Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no."

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.