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Same-Sex Couples Sue For Right To Marry In Indiana

Indiana's laws ban same-sex marriage and do not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

gay marriage

Photo: Kevin Clakre (flickr)

The Indiana General Assembly approved a measure to add a gay marriage ban to the constitution last month.

Four couples in Southern Indiana are filing a lawsuit against Indiana, arguing its laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. 

The couples filed the lawsuit against Gov. Mike Pence in U.S. District Court in New Albany.

In Indiana marriage is defined as between a man and woman. Same-sex couples can’t get married, and out-of-state same sex marriages are for all practical purposes void.

Joann Dale, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, married her wife Carol 5 years ago in Massachusetts and says the fight for equal marriage is both practical and symbolic.

“There comes a point when you just decide this not right to take anymore and that it is time to have the courage to stand up,” she says.

Of the four couples, two were married in other states and the other two would like to be married.

“All of these couples that we represent are like any other opposite sex couple in the state of Indiana. They live as married couples. They raise their kids together. They work and go to church in Indiana,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Canon says.

The Indiana statute being challenged is similar to laws that have recently been overturned in other states—including Texas and Kentucky, where Canon also represents the couples challenging that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Unlike some other attorneys general who have decided not to defend their states’ ban on same-sex marriage, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement that he would represent the state.

“As Indiana’s Attorney General I will represent our state and defend our statute now and on any appeal to the best of my skill and ability, as I swore an oath to do,” he said, adding that he hopes “Hoosiers can remain civil to each other as this legal question is litigated in the federal court.”

The attorney general successfully defended Indiana’s marriage laws in an Indiana court of appeals in 2005, but he hasn’t argued the case on a federal level.

The General Assembly approved a proposal to add the same-sex marriage ban into the state constitution last month. Supporters say that would strengthen the state law and make it harder to overturn in court. Lawmakers need to pass the proposal again before it could be sent to voters for a referendum.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

  • Bob Eckert

    Mr. Attorney General, I hope our evil Republican overlords can remain civil, but I am not holding my breath. You understand of course that Indiana will accept marriage equality and any discriminatory passages in our state Constitution will have to be removed. The people of Indiana are good people and the vast majority know at least 1 gay person whether they know it or not. A huge number have gay friends so of which are in long-term committed relationships that have exactly the same value as all the marriages in our state. These couples want EQUAL rights not special rights.
    Indiana is not a backward state like those in the south, we are a smart, kind, fair state and whether you think it will happen or not, marriage equality will prevail in our Hoosier state. You of course are aware that growing the state’s economy requires that we listen to the corporations and businesses that want to come here or who are already here. They want marriage equality or they will leave our state.

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