A federal judge ordered Monday that Ohio must recognize the marriages of gay couples legally performed in other states.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black ruled Monday that Ohio's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states is unconstitutional and criticized the state's "ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
The ruling allows gay couples who wed in states that allow same-sex marriage to obtain the same benefits in Ohio as any other married couple.
Black's order doesn't force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state.
The state plans to appeal the judge's ruling, arguing that Ohio has a sovereign right to ban gay marriage, which voters did overwhelmingly in 2004.
Black delayed deciding whether to issue a stay of his ruling pending the state's appeal in the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until after attorneys on both sides present arguments on the issue by Tuesday.
However, Black said he is inclined to stay his ruling pending appeal, except for a portion that applies to the four gay couples who filed the February lawsuit that led to the court case, the Associated Press reports. That would mean the state would immediately have to recognize their marriages and list both spouses as parents on their children's birth certificates.
From the steps of city hall, Cincinnati democratic leaders told the press Monday Ohio took one more step forward in the fight for marriage equality.
"This is a great day for Cincinnati and for our country and for fairness and equality for all families," said city councilman Chris Seelbach.
"We live in a cruel world. We live in a short life span. Life is too short and cruel to keep people from loving each other," said Mayor John Cranley.
Phil Burress, President of Citizens for Community Values, led the fight in 2004 to ban same sex marriage in Ohio. He says back then more than 60 percent of voters spoke out against it. They are voices he says Judge Black is ignoring in his ruling.
"The day he got this case, we knew how he was going to rule and he knew how he was going to rule. He paid no attention to the constitution or the will of the people. He's just trying to force upon us same-sex marriage. It's not going to stand. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will strike him down," said Burress. "3.3 million people that voted and said that marriage is between one man and one woman in the state of Ohio. For one judge to strike that down is totally irresponsible."
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