Though Ohio still won’t allow same-sex couples to legally marry on state soil any time soon, it will soon be required to acknowledge certificates from other states.
A federal judge announced Friday he will rule against Ohio’s ban on recognizing same-sex spouses who were married in other states on the basis that it is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Timothy Black said in a statement he plans to release his written decision and order by Monday.
Some Ohio State students said it could be a significant move toward marriage equality, even though the state has not voted to allow same-sex couples to wed in Ohio.
Linchi Liang, a fourth-year in communication who identifies as gay, said he was happy to hear about the judge’s ruling.
“I expect to see more (similar rulings) in the country,” he said. “Ohio is still (a) considerably conservative state.”
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman changed his stance on gay marriage, becoming the first GOP senator to openly support it last year, and last month a poll for The Columbus Dispatch showed that 54 percent of Ohioans would support an amendment that would repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage.
While advocates with FreedomOhio have talked about getting an amendment on the November ballot, the group, which aims to bring marriage equality to the Buckeye State, plans to hold its petition “in a state of readiness for filing” while gathering signatures on a new petition with revised language, according to its website.
Black’s ruling is the most recent in a string of legal decisions that give same-sex couples more rights.
The Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and enabled the federal government to deny benefits to same-sex couples who were considered legally married in the states they resided in, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
Some of the benefits same-sex couples saw as a result of the Supreme Court decision include entitlement to file tax returns jointly, Social Security survivor benefits and the right to be informed if a spouse is killed in action.
As a future law student, Liang said he has a passion for working toward marriage equality.
“I witnessed a great movement of marriage equality and I believe in the future, I will keep fighting for equality,” Liang said.
Other OSU students said, though, the ruling might not have a huge impact on same-sex marriage in Ohio.
“Actually, in (the) short term I don’t think it is going to change much (of) anything,” said Zachary Thomas, a fourth-year graduate student in statistics.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 18 states, including Washington, D.C., and prohibited in 33.
Divya Mahadevan, a fourth-year in engineering re-exploring, said she doesn’t think there should be restrictions on marriage.
“To me, it doesn’t really matter. Marriage is just basically a commitment to each other, and if it recognized, it is good,” she said. “It is great that Ohio (is) finally recognizing it.”