A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] on Wednesday expanded a lawsuit seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black ruled in July and September [JURIST reports] that the surviving same-sex spouses of two decedents should be listed as spouses on death certificates because their marriages were valid under the laws of the states where they were performed. Those two orders limited the scope of precedent to those parties only, but Wednesday's decision granted a motion to expand the precedent [AP report] to all similarly situated couples. Attorneys are now asking the judge to direct his decision to mandate compliance by the Ohio Health Department's internal policies for death certificates. A decision is expected in December.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, with courts splitting over whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. Earlier this week a Kentucky judge ruled that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the spousal privilege [JURIST report] under Kentucky state law. Last month the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts.