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Same-Sex Couples Sue For Right To Marry In Indiana

A majority of Hoosiers oppose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, but fewer support legalizing it.

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.

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