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Judge Strikes Down Indiana’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban


Photo: Claire McInerny

Abby Henkel and Sarah Perfetti applied for and signed a marriage license in Monroe County today, after a judge ruled Indiana's ban unconstitutional.

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage, saying marrying the person you love, regardless of gender, is a fundamental right.

His ruling orders the state to immediately recognize otherwise valid marriages between same-sex couples.

Update 6:25 p.m.

The Indiana Attorney General is requesting Judge Richard Young put a stay on his ruling granting same-sex couples the ability to marry in Indiana.

In his official request for a stay, Attorney General Greg Zoeller says because some same sex couples are already getting married, “time is of the essence” to halt the marriages, pending appeal, and “maintain the historic status quo” of marriage between one man and one woman.

The Attorney General’s office also filed a notice of appeal.

Update 4:40 p.m.

The state Attorney General plans to request a stay to prevent same-sex marriages from taking place as the state appeals the ruling.

In light of that, IU Maurer School of Law Associate Professor Deborah Widiss says it is unclear whether the state will recognize the marriages that are taking place across the state.

“It may depend upon the terms of the stay,” Widiss says.

She says the federal government more than likely will recognize all Indiana same-sex marriages that have already taken place, even if the state will not.

Update 2:21 p.m.

By Brandon Smith, Indiana Public Broadcasting

Same sex couples and gay rights advocates are celebrating as a federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, but gay marriage opponents say Wednesday’s decision is their long-held fears becoming reality.

American Family Association of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark says his organization has been warning lawmakers and Hoosiers for years that same-sex marriage advocates would use the courts to force a new definition of marriage on the state.

He says he’s concerned about the consequences if those marriages are allowed to continue.

“I see a battle, constantly, between individual liberty, freedom of religion and the homosexual agenda,” Clark says.

But Marion County Clerk Beth White, who is already performing ceremonies for same-sex couples, called today a “good day for democracy.”

“By the power finally, at long last, vested in me in the state of Indiana, I do declare that you are spouses for life,” White said during a marriage ceremony. “Those whom I have joined together today let no one ever separate.”

The Attorney General’s office says it will quickly ask for a stay of Judge Young’s ruling, pending an appeal. If a stay is granted, that would halt marriages until an appellate court rules on the issue.

Update 1:50 p.m.

County clerks offices are reacting differently to the court order ruling Indiana’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

After consulting with attorneys, the Monroe County clerk’s office is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The

Lines of people were also forming in the Marion County clerk’s office, which is issuing licenses.

The Tippecanoe County Clerk, however, is not providing marriage licenses, saying the ruling does not indicate her office should do so.

The Attorney General’s Office said in an earlier statement that the court’s order requires county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana and that same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states be recognized in Indiana.

But the Attorney General’s Office also said it is analyzing the court’s rulings and will soon advise county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow “in order to avoid chaos during the appeal.”

Original Story:

A federal judge Wednesday struck down Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage, saying marrying the person you love, regardless of gender, is a fundamental right.

In his ruling, Judge Richard Young says he’s never seen a “phenomenon” throughout the federal court system like the recent cases regarding same-sex marriage.

Lambda Legal, the gay rights organization that represents the couples challenging Indiana’s ban, says there have been 19 federal rulings in same-sex marriage suits in the last year – and all 19 have gone in favor of same-sex couples.

Young says when gender and sexuality are taken away, same-sex couples are no different than any other, and that, in time, Americans will refer to it simply as marriage, and not same-sex marriage. His ruling orders the state to immediately recognize otherwise valid marriages between same-sex couples.

County clerks around the state are preparing for same sex couples seeking marriage licenses. The Marion County Clerk’s Office tweeted that they would be accepting applications for marriage licenses immediately.

Monroe County Clerk’s Office Chief Deputy Nicole Brown said they were reviewing the ruling with their attorney and had no further comment.  Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins was out of the office.

A federal appeals court also ruled today that Utah’s same sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Both states are likely to appeal the rulings.

This story will be updated.

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