U.S. District Judge Richard Young’s ruling Wednesday that the Indiana’s laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional brought a mix of reaction from Indiana leaders on the state and federal level.
Almost immediately after Young’s ruling, the Indiana attorney general’s office announced it would appeal the decision—a move fully supported by Republican Gov. Mike Pence.
“Governor Pence supports the attorney general’s efforts to appeal the federal court’s ruling and defend Indiana’s right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state,” gubernatorial spokeswoman Kara Brooks said in a statement.
“Because the governor believes in the rule of law, the state of Indiana will comply with the federal court’s order as this case moves through the appeals process.”
Following Young’s ruling, some county clerk’s offices began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In Southern Indiana, a handful of gay couples were allowed to wed in Clarksville and Jeffersonville. Other Southern Indiana county clerk’s offices held off on issuing marriage licenses.
Four years ago, then-Congressman Baron Hill—a Democrat whose district covered Southern Indiana—said he believed in traditional marriage only and favored civil unions for same-sex couples.
Asked for a reaction to the judge’s ruling, Hill’s successor, Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Young said:
“I’ve always been consistent in my belief that such decisions ought to be left up to the states to decide, so long as fundamental constitutional rights are protected. At this point, it is up to the Indiana Attorney General, as a representative of the Indiana General Assembly and all Hoosiers, to decide the best path forward.”
A Young spokesman said the GOP congressman has always believed marriage is a state issue and hadn’t weighed in beyond that.
Four years ago when he ousted Hill from office, Young objected to a federal constitutional amendment to include gay couples in the definition of marriage. The Republican lawmaker added during a 2010 congressional debate that marriage was “a union between one man and one woman.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly told WFPL the federal ruling is a step in the right direction for all of Indiana.
“All Hoosiers should feel welcome in their own state,” Donnelly said in a statement. “A big part of feeling welcome is having the freedom to get married and build a family. Today’s ruling provides all Hoosiers with equal opportunity to enjoy this freedom and makes Indiana a more inclusive state.”
Last year, Donnelly reversed his position on the issue. He said he supported same-sex couples’ the right to wed, joining a number of Midwest Democrats who publicly supported marriage equality.
A spokesman for U.S. Senator Dan Coats said the Republican lawmaker supports the state’s appeal.