A federal judge here ordered Ohio authorities Monday to recognize gay marriages on death certificates in a move that ultimately could challenge the state's ban on same-sex unions.
Although Judge Timothy Black's ruling applies only to death certificates, his statements about Ohio's gay-marriage ban are sweeping, unequivocal and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law. The judge wrote that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that states cannot discriminate against gay couples simply because some voters don't like homosexuality.
"We disagree with the court's ruling, and the state will appeal it," said Rob Nichols, spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Lisa Hackley, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office concurred, saying that her office will appeal within the 30 days allowed by law.
"We've consulted with our client, which is the Ohio Department of Health, and we're following our client's wishes," Hackley said, adding that the state will not request a stay.