Ohio appeals same-sex marriage victory

Supreme Court Issues Orders On Pending Cases
Gay rights activists hold flags outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on June 25, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Marriage equality advocates may have won an important battle in Ohio last month, but the war is far from over.

On Thursday, the Buckeye State’s top attorney filed an appeal of a December ruling that declared part of Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. At the time, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine vowed to the Associated Press that his office would “defend the Ohio Constitution and state statutes.” The case will now go before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In comparison to recent decisions made by federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma, Ohio’s ruling was relatively narrow, mandating only that the state include the names of same-sex spouses on death certificates. In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment that prohibited gay couples from marrying in Ohio, and prevented the state government from recognizing such unions performed anywhere else.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Black used sweeping language in his December opinion that many believed could be used in future cases to entirely overturn the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“The question presented,” wrote Black, “is whether a state can do what the federal 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).”

“Under the Constitution of the United States,” he continued, “the answer is no.”