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Death Certificate Case Goes Before Federal Judge in Ohio Gay Marriage Fight
CINCINNATI (Tiffany Wilson) -- A federal judge in Cincinnati heard final arguments in a fight over gay marriage in Ohio Wednesday.
At issue is whether same sex marriages should be recognized on Ohio death certificates despite a statewide ban.
Inside the federal courthouse, Judge Timothy Black heard two very different stories that center on the lives of two gay couples in Ohio. One of those couples is Jim Obergefell and John Arthur.
The two wed in Maryland where same-sex marriage is legal. But John died in Ohio where same-sex marriage is not. Jim wants John's death certificate to reflect their marriage.
His attorney told Judge Black that Ohio has a long tradition of following the place of celebration rule. He told the judge that practice should extend to same sex marriages.
"Same sex marriage is legal in Maryland, It's legal here. And we're saying you don't have to rule broadly because this only came up for us in the death certificate of John Arthur."
The state focused on the narrow scope of the plaintiff's request in its oral argument. Assistant state's attorney Bridget Coontz could not speak to us on camera but she told the judge Ohio has a right to define marriage and the current definition does not include gay couples. She argued that Ohio law needs to be consistent and it is not rational to expect the state to change its marriage definition just in the narrow context of death certificates.
Judge Black has said he must rule on this by December 31st when the injunction runs out. He says he hopes to rule by the holidays.
Currently, fifteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same sex marriages. Same sex marriage will become legal in Illinois next year.