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ACLU Asks Feds To Recognize Indiana Same-Sex Marriages

same-sex marriage

Photo: Jimmy Jenkins

Bart Peterson and Pete McNamara get married at the Marion County courthouse.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is asking the U.S. Justice Department to specify that it will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed last month in Indiana.

Hundreds of couples were married in Indiana after a U.S. District Court judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Two days later, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on that order, halting same-sex marriages in the state.

Earlier this week, Gov. Mike Pence sent a memo to executive branch agencies directing them not to recognize the marriages and act as though the district court ruling was not issued.

Legal experts have said the federal government will still recognize those marriages performed during that two-day window.

“Essentially the governor is saying that these are not valid marriages, that is the implication of his decision,” says Steve Sanders, an associate professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. “Well the federal government thinks they are valid.”

But the ACLU wants the Justice Department to put that in writing.

“We have been contacted by numerous couples who have questions as to whether, despite the memorandum from the counsel for the Governor, their marriages will be recognized by the federal government,” ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk said in a letter to U.S. Attorney Eric Holder today.

Couples in Michigan and Utah also were allowed to marry before a stay was issued, and, after those rulings, the Justice Department issued specific announcements explaining that the federal government would recognize the marries performed during that time.

“Given that the Indiana situation appears to be exactly the same I am hopeful that would be willing to issue a similar statement concerning Indiana,” Falk wrote in the letter. “Such a statement would mean an enormous amount to the many couples involved.”

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