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Gay Marriage Recognized on Ohio Death Certificates

CINCINNATI (Paula Toti) -- A victory Monday for the supporters of same sex marriage in Ohio has attorneys picking through its broader implications.

Ohio's Attorney General is among them and he's promising an appeal.

Ohio still doesn't recognize gay marriage but other states do.  It was at the federal court house that a judge last summer handed a gay couple a victory saying the surviving spouse could be listed as the spouse on a death certificate. 

Monday the same judge basically said, that should be true for other gay couples as well.

Calls have been coming in all day to Attorney Scott Knox who deals with a lot of gay rights issues.  Same sex couples want to know where they stand in Ohio.

"Basically Ohio doesn't recognize your marriage until one of you is dead."

Knox isn't trying to be funny.  The new ruling based in part on the case of John Arthur and gives gay couples in Ohio, married in other states, rights after death.  John Arthur died and his spouse, James Obergefell, fought to have him listed as married on his death certificate. 

The case also involved another gay couple and a funeral home that had to sign one of the death certificates.  Those certificates have implications for money paid to surviving spouses.

"If you're a retirement plan holder and need to pay spouse benefits what do you do in Ohio now?"

Scott believes those benefits along with social security benefits will be paid. 

Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will appeal this case on behalf of the defendant of the Department of Health.  He told Local 12 it makes sense for an appellate panel to decide this case not just one judge.  He said Judge Timothy Black overruled Ohio voters who said gay marriage isn't constitutional.

Knox isn't worried about the appeal and believes the case opens the door to more and more rulings in favor of gay marriage.

"This case just said you have a marriage already it will be upheld for a death certificate but next step will it be enforced for tax purposes and other reasons."

Earlier this year the Supreme Court of the United State said the federal government would recognize gay marriage from other jurisdictions. 

Attorney Scott Knox says the wording of Monday's ruling was very narrow and he believes that will make it pullet proof in the case of an appeal.




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