Judge Scott Brown has ruled that the state Supreme Court’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the state constitution.
The decision comes in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Brown, a Democrat, made the ruling Friday after hearing arguments from the state’s three gay and lesbian couples, who argued that Ohio’s ban violates their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.
Brown ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny a license to same sex couples on religious grounds.
Brown said the state has the power to deny licenses for marriage licenses based on religion.
“In this case, there are no differences between two people of the same sex, whether or not they are married or whether they are in a civil union,” he wrote in his opinion.
“If the legislature wishes to continue the practice of marriage as between a man and a woman, the legislature has no power to impose a religious test for marriage.”
Brown wrote that the legislature’s “preference is to recognize only those couples that share in the religious belief that marriage is the union of a man with a woman.”
Brown’s ruling came just a week after the Ohio Supreme Court issued a stay of Brown’s order.
The state appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Brown’s decision also comes after a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit challenging the state ban violates the 14th Amendment, which prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude.
The lawsuit, filed by Obergefell v.
Hodges, also said that Brown’s action violates the U,S.
Constitution’s equal protection clause.
The ruling came in the wake of a series of court decisions that struck down laws that banned same-seeming marriage in Texas and Indiana.