Updated Mon, Dec 23, 2013 3:27 pm
Update: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will appeal a Cincinnati judge's ruling questioning the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Early Monday Judge Timothy Black ordered state officials to recognize such unions on death certificates.
While that ruling applies only to death certificates, it opens the door to litigation aimed at overturning the ban.
DeWine told the Associated Press Black's ruling was not a surprise to him as it was consistent with earlier rulings in the case.
DeWine said his office will appeal the ruling before Cincinnati's 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A federal judge has declared in a ruling that applies only to death certificates that Ohio's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
In his decision Monday, Judge Timothy Black orders state officials to recognize such unions on death certificates.
Although his ruling applies narrowly, his statements about Ohio's gay-marriage ban are sweeping and expected to incite further litigation challenging the law.
In his lengthy decision, the Cincinnati-based judge says that "once you get married lawfully in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away."
He says the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right to remain married as a fundamental liberty.
Black's decision stems from a lawsuit filed in July by two gay Ohio men whose spouses recently died and wanted to be recognized on their death certificates as married.
FreedomOhio co-founder and Executive Director Ian James said Judge Black's ruling was the right thing to do.
"FreedomOhio applauds Judge Black's ruling today as yet another step in the right direction on the road to freedom for gay and lesbian couples throughout Ohio."
James said while the Court left in place the 2004 Ohio Marriage Ban, it made clear that even though a majority of voters supported the ban in 2004, it nonetheless violates the US Constitution.
Despite the likelihood that Black's ruling will be appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court, James said FreedomOhio will redouble its efforts to pass its "... clear, concise and constitutionally sound 46-word Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment next November."
He added that with recent polling showing 56% of Ohio Voters supporting the amendment, he is certain voters will repeal and replace the 2004 Marriage Ban well before the US Supreme Court takes up the matter.