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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ohio's Patch in the Same-Sex Marriage Quilt

Since the SCOTUS decisions in United States -v- Windsor and Hollingsworth -v- Perry last summer, the civil rights push for same-sex marriage equality has picked-up momentum throughout the country.

State legislatures and federal bureaucrats have taken action across the land, as we noted at the Law Blogger here, here, here, and here.  State and federal judges are making decisions on a variety of same-sex marriage cases in the wake of the SCOTUS rulings on the issue; check-out our post on the same-sex adoption case pending in federal court in Detroit, here.

Now Ohio has a contribution through a federal judge's ruling on Friday in a case involving who can be named on a decedent's death certificate as a surviving spouse.

The cases involve two gay couples from Cincinnati who were married in states that recognized gay marriage.  Each couple lost a partner; the surviving partner sought to be named on their decedent's death certificate for practical purposes such as burial, as well as for symbolic reasons.

The funeral director was added strategically as a plaintiff; his attorneys requested that the chief of Ohio's health department be ordered to instruct all funeral directors and coroners to list same-sex surviving spouses on death certificates.  Attorneys for the State of Ohio sought to have the funeral director removed as a party to the civil rights litigation.

The federal judge's ruling is significant to the extent that it allowed the funeral director to remain a party in the case thereby making the judge's ultimate decision in the case applicable to all same-sex married couples in Ohio and other states.

Regardless of the final decision of the federal district court judge in this case, like the same-sex adoption case currently pending here in Michigan, these matters will be appealed to the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and then, possibly on to the SCOTUS.  We here at the Law Blogger see these separate cases, percolating up from adjacent states at the same time, as potential for consolidation when and if they are considered by the SCOTUS in the not-so-distant future.

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