On July 19, 2013, two men, married in Maryland, filed suit in the Southern District of Ohio seeking declaratory and injunctive relief compelling Ohio to recognize their marriage. The complaint was based on Ohio's alleged violation of plaintiffs' rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitutions. Plaintiff John Arthur was suffering from late stage ALS and was likely to die soon. Plaintiffs were married in Maryland and claimed that Ohio's refusal to recognize their marriage on John's probable death certificate, while simultaneously recognizing the unions of heterosexual couples married outside Ohio whose unions would not be allowed inside Ohio, is unconstitutional.
On July 22, 2013, Judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order, stipulating that should the plaintiff die, Ohio was barred from recording a death certificate that did not reflect the plaintiffs' marriage. Judge Black reasoned that Ohio had a long history of accepting out of state marriages for purposes of death certificates and the like. Therefore, under Windsor
, failure to recognize Plaintiffs' union would be unconstitutional discrimination that could not be construed as supported by a state interest.
John died on October 22, 2013, but the court denied a motion to dismiss. The court issued a permanent injunction on December 23, 2014.
On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit ruled on this and other cases from four states. DeBoer v. Snyder (PB-MI-0004
in this Clearinghouse). Henry v. Hodges (PB-OH-0004
in this Clearinghouse). Love v. Beshear (PB-KY-0001
in this Clearinghouse). Tanco v. Haslam (PB-TN-0005
in this Clearinghouse). It was unwilling to find a Constitutional basis to deny states' authority to define marriage. On the Due Process and Equal Protection claims raised in this case, the court found that it was bound by Supreme Court precedent in Baker v. Nelson, 191 N.W.2d 185 (Minn. 1971), which it found not overruled by Windsor nor by "doctrinal developments". It found that the bans were plausibly rational, and neither in violation of the Constitution nor due to illegal animus or discrimination. It also held that "[i]f it is constitutional for a State to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, it is also constitutional for the State to stand by that definition with respect to couples married in other States or countries." (DeBoer v. Snyder Page p. 38). Accordingly, the Sixth Circuit upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 772 F.3d 388.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari review of all the 6th Circuit cases on Jan. 16, 2015. Bourke v. Beshear, 135 S. Ct. 1041 (2015). The Court rephrased the questions presented as: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
On June 26, 2015, the Court reversed, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy. The right to marry is fundamental, the Court held, and it demeans gay and lesbian couples to deprive them of access to marriage. The 14th Amendment therefore does not allow states to ban same-sex marriage. Kennedy was joined without further writing by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. Each of the four dissenters--Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito--wrote a dissent. Chris MacColl - 03/30/2014
Thomas Topping - 02/15/2015