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Judge Hears Oral Arguments On Same-Sex Marriage Cases

The state argues it has the authority to determine how marriage is defined, but plaintiffs attorneys argues the state's law is unconstitutional.

lambda legal and plaintiffs

Photo: Kat Carlton

Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor and some of the case's plaintiffs talk to the media after a judge heard oral arguments Friday.

A federal judge could soon rule in a case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. Southern District Court Judge Richard Young heard arguments today from Lambda Legal, the group representing five same-sex couples, and the state Attorney General’s office.

The state argued the legislature has the legal authority to determine how marriage shall be defined within Indiana’s borders.

“Indiana’s Legislature has chosen in statute to define marriage in the traditional way between one man and one woman and to not legally recognize same-sex unions granted in other states. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year in the U.S. v. Windsor case continues to leave this state policy decision-making authority with states and their legislatures,” the Attorney General’s spokesman Bryan Corbin said in a statement.

Solicitor General Thomas Fischer argued again that the state’s interest in traditional marriage is to encourage procreating opposite-sex couples to marry.

Lambda Legal argues the state’s law is unconstitutional because it does not provide equal protection to same-sex couples. Attorney Camilla Taylor says same-sex couples and their children are irreparably harmed by the state’s law.

“The state’s actually acknowledging that marriage gives benefits to children. It helps children when their parents can marry,” Taylor says. “And the state has no answer as to why children of same-sex couples should be denied those protections and that dignity.”

Judge Young ordered Indiana earlier this month to recognize the out-of-state marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler. He said not doing so could cause the couple irreparable harm because Quasney has ovarian cancer and doctors do not know how much longer she will live.

The judge’s order for Quasney and Sandler expires after 28 days, so he said he plans to rule on that case by May 8.

The judge does not have a timeline for when he will rule on the broader case challenging Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Kat Carlton contributed to this report.

Jashin Lin

Jashin Lin is a reporter/videographer for WFIU and WTIU news. She has previously worked as a videographer/web producer for MO.gov and as a reporter/videographer for the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She studied multimedia journalism and information technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @jashinlin.

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  • Inis_Magrath

    According to the article the Attorney General’s spokesman Bryan
    Corbin said, “the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year in the U.S. v. Windsor case continues to leave this state policy decision-making authority with
    states and their legislatures.”

    You hear that argument a lot from marriage equality opponents. The problem is, that is not what U.S. v. Windsor said. It is a half-truth.

    This is what the Windsor court decision says: “State laws defining and regulating marriage, of course, must respect the constitutional rights of persons, see, e.g., Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1 (1967); but, subject to those guarantees, “regulation of domestic relations” is“an area that has long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States.”

    That’s rather different, as anyone can see. State’s don’t have unfettered control of marriage regulation. Rather, state laws must respect the Federal Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection of the laws and due process. Fortunately, Federal judges are usually not so easily fooled.

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