CINCINNATI - A federal judge said Friday that he will order Ohio to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, a move that would strike down part of the state's ban on gay marriages but stop short of forcing it to perform same-sex weddings.
Judge Timothy Black announced his intentions in federal court in Cincinnati following final arguments in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of the marriage ban.
"I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio's recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Black said. "(They're) denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."
Black said he'll issue the ruling April 14. The civil rights attorneys who filed the February lawsuit did not ask Black to order the state to perform gay marriages, and the judge did not say he would do so.
Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Federal judges have also struck down bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, though stays have been issued pending appeals.
Pam and Nicole Yorksmith, a Cincinnati couple who married in California in 2008 and have a 3-year-old son, were among the four couples who filed the lawsuit challenging the gay marriage ban and said Black's comments gave them validation.
"It also validates to our kids that we're bringing into our marriage that their parents are recognized by the state that we live in, and that's extremely important," Pam Yorksmith said.
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio's attorney general, said the state will appeal Black's order when it comes out but declined to comment further.