February 18, 2014
The plaintiffs who brought the challenge to Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state are asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to put the appeal of the lower court’s decision on a faster briefing and argument track.
The district court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a narrow decision that applies only to the recognition of the plaintiffs’ legal same-sex marriages for purposes of recording death certificates. As EqualityOnTrial noted at the time:
The Ohio lawsuit was originally brought by one couple, James Obergefell and John Arthur, seeking recognition of their Maryland marriage on a death certificate for Arthur, who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and died in October. Judge Black ruled in the couple’s favor, later expanding the case to include another same-sex couple and eventually to include all similarly situated couples in Ohio.
The decision was appealed by the state last month.
The new request is for “an expedited briefing schedule and argument at the earliest available date following completion of briefing.” The plaintiffs point to the Tenth Circuit’s decision to expedite the Utah and Oklahoma appeals, and hold argument at the earliest possible time, in April. The brief also points to the recent Ninth Circuit order granting a request for a fast hearing in Lambda Legal’s marriage case. And they suggest that, particularly in this situation, where death certificates are implicated, there’s an even greater need to resolve the issue quickly:
The Plaintiff couples continue to live with fear that the last legal document recording their marriages may be altered (the state repeatedly indicated that death certificates can be amended, see e.g., Doc. 11, Page ID 84) by the state to erase their marriages depending on the outcome of this case. Hastening resolution of these issues is important both for them and for the thousands of same-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit whose lawful marriages are not recognized by their home state.
If the request is granted, the Sixth Circuit would join the Ninth and Tenth in choosing to resolve these marriage equality challenges in a quick fashion.
Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing
For more information on Obergefell v. Wymyslo from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.