Give Now

Same-Sex Marriage Status In Indiana Still Uncertain

Same-sex marriages that were formed last week in Indiana will be recognized by the federal government, but state recognition is uncertain.

same sex marriage

Photo: Kelly Huston

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Indiana's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

The status of marriages between same-sex couples in Indiana is still up in the air after a federal appeals court Friday stopped same sex marriages until the state’s appeal can be heard.

Legal experts say couples could be in legal limbo for weeks or even months as the courts work to sort it out.

Last Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young ruled Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional.  Within hours, same-sex couples across the state were getting legally married.

Two days later, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of the decision until the appeals process is finished.  That’s left same-sex couples who got married in between those two rulings unsure of the legal standing of their unions.

Indiana University law professor David Orentlicher says there is certainty when it comes to federal recognition.

“Whether it’s tax returns for next year or it’s pension benefits, anything that’s regulated by federal law, the Obama administration has said they will be treated as legally married,” Orentlicher says.

But the Indiana Attorney General’s office says recognition of those marriages by the state is still undetermined and that a court may have to sort out the issue.

Because of the stay, the same-sex couple whose marriage was the first recognized in Indiana also wants that recognition restored by a federal appeals court.

Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler, married in Massachusetts last year, are one of the couples who challenged Indiana’s marriage statute. They also asked for emergency recognition of their marriage because Quasney is terminally ill with ovarian cancer.

More than two months before federal judge Richard Young ruled the statute unconstitutional for all same-sex couples, he ordered the state to recognize Quasney and Sandler’s marriage.

But when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals halted the effect of Young’s ruling last week on the marriage ban as a whole, it also invalidated Young’s emergency recognition of Quasney and Sandler’s union.

Lambda Legal attorney Paul Castillo, who represents the couple, says the appeals court’s stay is a setback for all same-sex couples.

“In the immediate future, however, we also want Amy and Niki’s marriage to continue to be recognized because, for their particular circumstance, they don’t have the luxury of time to wait for court proceeding,” Castillo says.

The Attorney General’s office has said granting Quasney and Sandler special recognition does not fit with Indiana law, which does not have a hardship exception for marriage recognition. It also notes a death certificate can be changed in the future if the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is permanently eliminated.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Politics Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook