Federal Judge Rules Indiana Same-Sex Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional

Update 2:30 p.m. Marriage In Some Counties  

The Marion County clerk has begun issuing marriage licenses in Indianapolis, Indystar.com reported Wednesday.

We’ve reached out to the county clerks in Southern Indiana. Harrison County Clerk Sally Whitis said her office’s computer system for managing marriage licenses doesn’t appear to allow for same-sex couples. She said she’s seeking guidance from state officials and the state’s clerks’ association.

“At this point we would not be doing one based on technological issues,” Whitis told WFPL.

Christy Eurton, the Floyd County clerk, said in an e-mail that her office was “working on it” and would update on the office’s next move later.

Clark County Clerk Barbara Bratcher-Haas has not responded to messages left at her office. Some same-sex couples were married in Clark County on Wednesday, the News & Tribune reported.

Earlier: Indiana’s laws against same-sex marriage were struck down Wednesday in federal court, the Associated Press reports.

Indiana joins several states where federal judges have struck down parts or all of bans against same-sex marriage. In recent months, several challenges were filed in federal court against Indiana’s ban, including a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples in Southern Indiana. The plaintiffs’ lawyers are the same team who are challenging Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban.

But U.S. District Judge Richard Young wrote dismissed the suit filed on behalf of the Southern Indiana couples. Young wrote: “The court finds there is no case or controversy between the Plaintiffs and Governor Pence.”

“We’re very disappointed with the judge’s procedural ruling in our particular case, but we’re very, very pleased with the overall ruling in favor of marriage equality. This is a victory for everyone whose constitutional rights were being violated by the state of Indiana,” said Dan Canon, an attorney for the Southern Indiana plaintiffs.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled Wednesday that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause in a mixed ruling involving lawsuits from several gay couples. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the ruling means same-sex marriages can begin in the state. The Indiana attorney general’s office says it will appeal.

Young’s ruling is for three lawsuits filed on behalf of 13 people by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the national ACLU and Indianapolis attorney Sean Lemieux, the Indiana ACLU said in a news release.

“We are ecstatic that the court recognized what we have always maintained: That there is simply no justification for treating same-sex couples any differently than other loving couples of opposite genders,” ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk said in a statement.

Canon said he expects the challenge to Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage will proceed in a similar fashion to other states—an appeal will follow. The case could then end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also, a federal appeals court for the first time struck down a same-sex marriage ban. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s ruling against Utah’s laws against same-sex marriage.

On Aug. 6, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear an appeal of U.S. District Judge John Heyburn’s ruling from earlier this year that Kentucky’s ban on out-of-state same-sex marriages violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment. 

Heyburn has yet to rule on a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples seeking to be married in Kentucky.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

Comments