Indiana Same Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down
Federal judge's ruling takes effect immediately; opponent says it's the beginning of "the homosexual agenda"
Jun. 25, 2014
Couples line up for marriage licenses at the Marion County Clerk's Office (wibc.com photo: Ray Steele)
Same-sex couples can legally get married in Indiana immediately.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it a violation of the 14th Amendment's due process and Equal Protection clauses. Several couples had filed federal lawsuits challenging the marriage ban, and Young had previously ordered the state to recognize the same-sex marriage of a couple to ensure that the partner of a terminally ill woman would have access to benefits from the state normally available to married couples. Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked a federal appeals court to overturn that decision last week.
Zoeller's office had argued that only the state had the right to set laws for marriage, and late Wednesday afternoon, he filed an emergency appeal for a stay of the order, asking it to be put on hold until all appeals are exhausted. "Marriages in violation of Indiana's existing law have taken place, are taking place and will continue to take place pursuant to this court's order," the appeal read. "Time is of the essence to stop these marriages by staying this court's final judgment."
Marion County Clerk Beth White kept her office open late to handle hundreds of marriage license applications, as well as to conduct civil ceremonies for those who wanted them. Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality Action, and his longtime partner Robert Owens were married by White. "We got it through the courts. We were able to stave off the marriage amendment in the legislature, and getting (marriage legalized) through the courts is just as sweet, and it's finally here," Sutton said. He and Owens were already married in California, "but we are residents here. It's fair to say since we are residents of Indiana, we should be able to get married in Indiana," Owens said.
Bart Peterson of Indianapolis was quick to tell me he was "the other one" to distinguish himself from the former mayor of the same name. He and his partner, Pete McNamara were in line at the Clerk's office soon after the ruling. "It took us about 45 minutes," Peterson said. "We work at the same place, and we saw the breaking news alert pop up on the phone. So, we decided to drop our meetings this afternoon and run down here." Peterson and McNamara have been together 21 years, and when asked if they thought they would see the day where they could get married, McNamara didn't hesistate. "I thought I'd see it, and I thought I'd see it here, though I didn't think it would be this fast."
Opponents of same-sex marriage are not giving up, but they were clearly disappointed. "It's a sad day in Indiana," said Ryan McCann, executive director of Indiana Family Action. "What the government is essentially doing from now on is saying that moms and dads are optional."
Another social conservative who has been influential with lawmakers for many years called the ruling "a door opener" for other laws he claims the LGBT community wants. "Children should not be taught that homosexuality, beginning in elementary school, is normal and acceptable," said Eric Miller with Advance America. "It would give men who get up in the morning and say they feel like a woman legal access to a women's restroom or a women's dressing room. This will place women and girls at risk of having a child molester or a rapist in the same restroom or dressing room with them," Miller said. He also cited what he said was a state law in California, "where boys beginning in elementary school who say they feel like a girl today have legal access to girls restrooms and girls locker rooms."
Miller says he spoke to Attorney General Greg Zoeller shortly after Young's ruling about Zoeller's upcoming appeal, and he says he will lobby the General Assembly again next year, "to pass the (state) constitutional amendment that was passed this year, so that the citizens of Indiana have, in 2016, have the opportunity to vote to protect marriage between a man and a woman." The legislature approved the amendment this year, but only after removing language that would have also outlawed same-sex civil unions. That removal kept the amendment off the November ballot this year.