Judge Expected to Order Ohio to Recognize Gay Marriage

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It's a moment that many gay couples in Ohio have been eagerly awaiting.

Monday, federal Judge Timothy Black, of Cincinnati, will order Ohio to recognize same-sex marriage for couples who have legally wed out of state.

The ruling will give same-sex spouses property, parental and medical rights, but a Cleveland couple says it offers them something even more special: validation.

Just like any couple, Matt and Esteban Dilloway have their own, unique love story.

"We just went out one night, New Years Eve, and we just met right there and it was love at first sight," Esteban told Fox 8 reporter Autumn Ziemba.

His spouse, Matt, echoed the sentiment.

"Since then, we've pretty much been inseparable, other than my deployments, and he's followed me around the world," he said.

Loyal partners for nine years, the couple wed in Maryland in June of 2013.

This summer will mark not only their 10th anniversary, but their first one as a married couple.

"It's a very special moment for us. Hopefully we'll be able to bring that back here to Ohio." Esteban said. "We are married already, but we don't feel like it's legit in this state."

That might be about to change.

"I should be able to go to the hospital and say this is my husband, and (have) all the rights that come together with that," Esteban explained.

Matt is a chief petty officer in the United States Navy. He and Esteban feel that having property, parental and medical rights are crucial, especially for military families.

"It's a first step. It's not going to be the be-all end-all. There's more to come from this, but it's a step in the right direction," Matt said.

Sunday evening at Twist on Cleveland's Clifton Boulevard, the couple chatted with friends in nervous anticipation of Monday's ruling.

They even shared a toast in cautious celebration.
"I think (marriage) will probably have a different meaning toward it, not in terms of our love or commitment, but in terms of the validity that comes toward it," Esteban explained. "I can guarantee if the ruling is in our favor, we're going to go out and celebrate a little bit."

The state of Ohio plans to appeal Judge Black's ruling, since Ohioans voted to ban gay marriage in 2004.

Attorneys for the state have also said they will push for a stay to stop the ruling from going into effect while the appeal is pending.