Couples sue to force Ohio’s hand on gay marriage

Amanda Broughton, part of a gay married couple, comforted one of her sons Monday at a news conference in Cincinnati.
Amanda Broughton, part of a gay married couple, comforted one of her sons Monday at a news conference in Cincinnati.Al Behrman/Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Four legally married gay couples filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Monday seeking a court order to force Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on birth certificates despite a statewide ban, echoing arguments in a similar successful lawsuit concerning death certificates.

The couples filed the suit in federal court in Cincinnati, arguing that the state’s practice of listing only one partner in a gay marriage as a parent on birth certificates violates the US Constitution.

‘‘We want to be afforded the same benefits and rights as every other citizen of the United States,’’ said one of the plaintiffs, Joe Vitale, 45, who lives in Manhattan with his husband and their adopted 10-month-old son, who was born in Ohio. The pair married in 2011 shortly after New York legalized gay marriage.


A spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine of Ohio, whose office will fight the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Previously, DeWine has said he has a duty to defend Ohio’s constitution and statutes, including the statewide ban on gay marriage, passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2004. Gay marriage supporters are working to put the issue back on the Ohio ballot in November.

The other plaintiffs in Monday’s lawsuit are three lesbian couples living in the Cincinnati area who married in states that have legalized gay marriage. One woman in each of those marriages is pregnant through artificial insemination, and their babies all are due to be born this summer in Cincinnati hospitals.

The couples say they are worried that having only one of them listed as a parent on their children’s birth certificates could lead to problems down the road, such as a denial of parental rights to the one not named, should their partner die or experience a medical emergency.

‘‘I have no legal grounds to stand on. That’s not something that should be happening in our society,’’ said Pam Yorksmith, who married her wife in California in 2008. The couple have a 3-year-old son and a child on the way.


Associated Press