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Same-sex marriages (SSM) in Indiana.

Part 4

2014-MAY/JUN: 5 SSM lawsuits to be
consolidated into one case.
Federal district court issues its ruling
in Baskin v. Bogan. SSMs legalized.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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In this essay "LGB" refers to Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals.
"SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.

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2014-APR-11: Current status of same-sex marriage lawsuits in Indiana:

There are more than 60 lawsuits seeking same-sex marriage in various U.S. states that have previously imposed bans on SSM.

Five of them have been filed in Indiana. All five have been consolidated under District Court Judge Richard L. Young. 1

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2014-JUN-25: District Court judge declares ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional:

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Young declared Amendment 3 to the Indiana constitution to be unconstitutional. It had prohibited marriages by same-sex couples across the state, and also prohibited the state from recognizing marriages that had been solemnized out-of-state.

Judge Young based his decision on the now familiar grounds that the amendment violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 5 was thus void and unenforceable. 2 Over a dozen other state and federal courts have declared same-sex marriage legal in various states during the previous 12 months and have based their decision on the same clauses.

Judge Young wrote that:

"These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such." 2

In common with some other District Court judges, he did not immediately stay his ruling. This enabled those same-sex couples who could respond quickly to obtain marriage licenses immediately and be married.

Judge Young was probably aware of the chaos caused in some other states where courts legalized SSM. To prevent confusion at the county clerk offices, he specifically instructed them to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples. County clerks in at least six counties followed the court's instructions and started issuing licenses immediately.

In the capital city Indianapolis, Marion County Clerk Beth White's office issued 219 licenses by the time that it finally closed at 8 PM. They offered civil marriages in return for a $50 donation to a local non profit: the Indiana Youth Group that supports LGBTQ teens.

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Craig Bowen and Jake Miller, who have been in a relationship for eight years, obtained their license and immediately married each other. Miller Said:

"Our parents don't know yet, so they might be a little mad at us. I sent Craig a text and said, 'Hey, do you want to get married today'?"


Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality Action married his partner of 16 years, Robert Owens, shortly after Bowen and Miller. Sutton said:

"That's all we ever wanted was to be treated equal [sic], and that's what this [marriage] means.",

The Attorney General's Office immediately appealed the District Court's ruling to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. They asked that the District Court issue an emergency stay to stop additional couples from marrying. The Office also instructed the five counties who were named in the original 5 lawsuits to follow the court order. It also suggested that the clerks at the other 87 Indian County offices:

"... show respect for the judge and the orders that are issued."

Kara Brooks, spokesperson for Governor Mike Pence (R), issued a statement saying that the Governor supports the appeal, and supports the principle that Indiana has the right:

"... to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state." 2

Apparently, the Governor believes, along with many other religious and social conservatives, that when a state constitution is amended by a public referendum, it is still valid even if it is found to violate the U.S. Constitution.

If the United States were organized as a pure democracy. then a public vote would be the highest law of the land. However, the vast majority of constitutional specialists agree that the U.S. is a constitutional democracy, where it is the federal Constitution that is the highest law of the land. One of the most important functions of the federal court system is to determine when the federal Constitution is violated by state constitutions, and to declare the latter unconstitutional where such a conflict occurs.

The 36 page text of the District Court ruling in Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al. is available online. 2

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Lots of additional developments are expected

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above notes. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jill Disis & Tim Evans, "Judge grants request to force Indiana to recognize couple's same-sex marriage," IndyStar, 2014-APR-11, at: http://www.indystar.com/
  2. "Indiana, Utah gay marriage bans struck down," Reuters, 2014-JUN-25, at: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/
  3. Michelle Pemberton and Cara Anthony, "Judge strikes down Indiana ban on gay marriage," 2014-JUN-24, Indiy Star, at: http://www.pal-item.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2014-APR
Latest update: 2014-JUN-26
Author: B.A. Robinson
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