First New Mexico on Dec. 19 ruled for gay marriage, then Utah did so on Dec. 20. Three days later, a federal judge in Ohio ruled on a case which chips away at the state’s gay marriage ban. Jeff Toobin from the New Yorker calls the Ohio case the most important decision yet:
“(T)wo days before Christmas, a federal court in Ohio issued a lower-profile decision that may have been the most important of all. James Obergefell and John Arthur, who lived together in Cincinnati, married in Maryland at a time when Arthur was gravely ill. In anticipation of Arthur’s death, the couple petitioned the state of Ohio for Arthur to be listed as ‘married’ on his Ohio death certificate, and to record Obergefell as the ‘surviving spouse.’ Ohio, which does not allow same-sex marriages, refused, but federal judge Timothy S. Black ruled against the state and in favor of the couple. The judge said it was ‘not a complicated case.’ Throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio has treated marriages solemnized out of state as valid in Ohio. ‘How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same-sex marriage as ones it will not recognize?’ Black asked in his opinion. ‘The short answer is Ohio cannot.'”
If the Utah ruling stands, the number of states that allow gays and lesbians to wed will be 18, up from nine states, plus the District of Columbia in January. Still, 32 states prohibit same-sex marriage, and 28 of them, including Alaska, have prohibitions in their state constitutions. None of those states have overturned those prohibitions.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com