CINCINNATI -- A federal judge is questioning the constitutionality of the Ohio's ban on gay marriage and whether state officials have the authority to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Judge Timothy Black's comments came Wednesday during arguments in federal court in Cincinnati over whether gay marriages should be recognized on Ohio death certificates.

Black says the stakes are high and that his ruling could serve as starting point for further litigation seeking recognition of same-sex marriage.

Civil rights attorneys argue that Ohio has traditionally recognized out-of-state marriages if they were legal where they took place, citing marriages between cousins and involving minors.

Attorneys for the state say that because Ohio voters banned gay marriage in 2004, the state has the right to refuse to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.

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