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Monday, February 10, 2014

Courts - Ohio lawsuit: "Gay parents want names on birth certificates"

H/T to How Appealing for collecting these links.

Kimball Perry reports at the Cincinnati Enquirer that:

Cincinnati is once again the center for Ohio’s battle over gay rights as four couples filed a federal court suit Monday seeking to list both parents on their children’s birth certificates.

While Cincinnati and Ohio allow both married parents of opposite sexes to be listed on their children’s birth certificates, only one of the married parents of the same sex can be listed.

“They seek to be treated the same as opposite-sex couples in their situations,” the suit, filed by Cincinnati civil rights attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein, notes. * * *

The suit was filed against the director of the Ohio health department Theodore Wymyslo and Camille Jones, registrar of the Cincinnati health department, as the keepers of birth certificates.

The suit is the latest salvo against Ohio’s ban on gay marriage or marital rights.

Last year, in a suit also filed by Gerhardstein, James Obergefell and John Arthur won a federal court ruling that Obergefell could be listed as the surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate. The couple flew to Maryland, a state that recognizes gay marriage, in July to be legally married before Arthur died from ALS. Arthur, 48, died in October.

That suit forced Ohio, a state where voters approved a 2004 ban on gay marriage, to recognize gay marriage – at least for death certificates.

The new suit seeks the same recognition for birth certificates issued to the children of married gay couples.

The story links to the complaint, which was filed Feb. 10th in the USDC, SD Ohio.

Some quotes from an AP story by Amana Lee Myers:

The couples' attorney is the same one who represented two gay married couples in their lawsuit last year that successfully sought a court order forcing Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. The state is appealing the ruling, issued in December by federal Judge Timothy Black.

"At both ends of our lifespans, a marriage is a marriage. A family is a family," said the couples' lawyer, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein. "A family is a loving, nurturing group of people and the identification document when the children come along is the birth certificate, and it ought to be right."

Unlike Oklahoma and Utah, where federal judges recently struck down gay marriage bans, Gerhardstein is working to slowly chip away at Ohio's gay marriage ban through narrow lawsuits.

He referred to the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying he didn't think its judges would uphold a ruling similar to the Oklahoma and Utah cases but would be more open to the argument he's making - that a state cannot disavow a marriage that was legal in the state where it took place.

Gerhardstein's tactic also will give the U.S. Supreme Court a wider variety of legal arguments to consider when appeals from various states reach their chambers.

Gerhardstein hopes his successful gay marriage lawsuit last year acts as a stepping stone to a victory in Monday's lawsuit.

In last year's case, Judge Black ruled that Ohio's ban on gay marriage demeans "the dignity of same-sex couples in the eyes of the state and the wider community."

"Once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away," Black wrote, saying the right to remain married is recognized as a fundamental liberty in the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 10, 2014 02:21 PM
Posted to Courts in general