The governor’s office says Indiana will not recognize the marriages of hundreds of same-sex couples that occurred after a federal judge last month struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
When the ruling came down, hundreds of same-sex couples rushed to courthouses across the state, where most were given marriage licenses and some were married on the spot.
Two days after the initial order, an appeals court granted a stay, halting the marriage ceremonies and instructing county clerks to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until it could decide on the case.
While legal experts had indicated the state likely would not recognize the marriages that occurred during those two days, the official status of same-sex couples’ marriages have been uncertain until now.
In a memo sent out this week, Gov. Mike Pence’s general counsel Mark Ahearn says state agencies should act like court order striking down gay marriage ban “had not been issued.”
Pence says he understands that there’s confusion created by different federal court decisions.
“But as governor of the state of Indiana, I have to see to it that the state of Indiana operates in a manner consistent with Indiana law and our general counsel has advised this is the proper course of action,” he says.
But Democrats and same-sex marriage advocates were quick to criticize the governor’s decision.
“Governor Pence is embarrassing our state by ignoring these families, creating an unwelcoming environment for those who want to call Indiana home,” Democrat Party Chair John Zody said in a statement. “No Hoosier should be treated as a second-class citizen.”
In Ahearn’s memo, he notes that the state will recognize the marriage of one same sex couple – Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler – as ordered by the federal appeals court. Quasney and Sandler, who were married in Massachusetts last year, sought emergency recognition because Quasney is terminally ill with ovarian cancer.
Legal experts say the federal government will also still recognize the same-sex marriages performed in Indiana for legal purposes at the federal level. The U.S. Department of Justice has not issued a statement relating specifically to Indiana, but it has stated its position in the cases of other states including Michigan and Utah.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated the memo went out today, instead of earlier this week.