A federal judge on Tuesday extended a temporary restraining order preventing state authorities from enforcing their ban on gay marriage against two men who got married in another state as one of them nears death.
Judge Timothy Black extended his previous order, set to expire in less than a week, until Dec. 31, which will protect John Arthur and James Obergefell’s marriage as their lawsuit against state and local authorities proceeds.
The order prevents authorities from recording Arthur, who’s dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, as “single” on his death certificate and not listing Obergefell as his spouse.
The couple, who married in Maryland last month, sued to have their marriage recognized in their home state before Arthur’s death so they can be listed as spouses on his death certificate and be buried next to each other on a family plot, located at a cemetery that only allows descendants and spouses.
The judge scheduled oral arguments in the case for Dec. 18 and will decide after that whether to issue a permanent order against the state to recognize the couple’s marriage.
In an order last month, the judge wrote that the couple deserve to be treated with dignity and that historically Ohio law has recognized out-of-state marriages as valid as long as they were legal where they took place, pointing to marriages between cousins and involving minors.
According to a lawsuit, Arthur and Obergefell, both 47, say they’ve been in love for more than 20 years and “very much want the world to officially remember and record their union as a married couple.”