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Judge overturns Indiana marriage law; same-sex couples marry in Marion County

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A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the state’s ban on same sex marriage – effective immediately – and couples across the state rushed to get hitched in case an appeals court stepped in to stop them.

“These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street,” U.S. District Judge Richard Young wrote. “The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a request for an emergency stay Wednesday in federal court in Indianapolis that would ban marriages until a higher court can consider the issue.

The Marion County Clerk’s office started performing marriages right away and there was a line out the door of couples waiting for the service. Clerk Beth White offered “simple civil ceremonies for couples for $50 voluntary contribution to Indiana Youth Group today,” a tweet from her office said.

Shortly thereafter, Craig Bowen and Jake Miller became the first same-sex couple to marry in the county when they got a license and had their ceremony in the clerk’s office.

By the time it closed at 11 p.m., the office had conducted more than 186 same-sex wedding ceremonies.
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Clerks in St. Joseph, Boone, Hamilton, Vanderburgh, Brown and other counties also began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But other counties weren’t moving so quickly, in part because the forms they use for marriage licenses do not reflect a same-sex relationship status.

Lake County officials said they planned to wait at least a day until they received direction from state officials. Zoeller’s office said it “will communicate with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid chaos during the appeal.”

In Monroe County, a clerk’s employee said the office is not currently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Attorneys there are still reading over the judges ruling but are expecting to allow it sometime later on Wednesday or Thursday, she said.

Ken Falk, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed the suit, said it’s unclear whether the new marriages would stand should an appeals court issue a stay. But he advised same-sex couples who desire to get married to do so quickly.

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Young said Indiana's state law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional and violates the due process and equal protection clause. Young was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

The ruling states that same-sex couples cannot be prosecuted or denied a marriage license.

“It’s a historical day because people have been waiting a long time to have their love recognized,” said Kyle Megrath, the marriage coordinator for Hoosiers United for Marriage. “There will be a lot of celebrating today.”

Megrath said the group is waiting for more details about how the ruling will be enforced.

Already, 19 states allow same-sex marriage. In 11 of those, voters or state legislatures made the call. In eight others, judges ordered marriage open to same-sex couples.

In another 12 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of gay marriages but the decisions were stayed as they were appealed, according to the national group Freedom to Marry.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he hopes the federal court will respect Indiana law by “granting a stay to Judge Young’s ruling until the Supreme Court takes up this case and all the others like it around the country.”

“It is clear that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to rule on this issue, and the sooner the better,” Long said. “The current chaos over state marriage laws that is being created by these lower federal court rulings needs to stop, and only the Supreme Court can make that happen and bring clarity to this issue once and for all.”

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman and left it up to each state to make its own decision regarding the definition of a legal marriage. But since then, federal judges across the nation have been striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

In the Indiana case, Zoeller’s office had argued the marriage-definition law should remain intact. State attorneys noted that the legislature has the legal authority to determine how marriage should be defined within Indiana’s borders and decided it should be in the traditional way – between one man and one woman. The legislature also decided not to legally recognize same-sex unions granted in other states.

But Young said in his decision that “excluding same-sex couples from marriage has absolutely no affect on opposite-sex couples, whether they will procreate, and whether such couples will stay together if they do procreate.” Those were among other reasons the state had given for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples.

Indiana has only banned same-sex marriage in state law, not its constitution.

Lawmakers have passed a constitutional marriage ban several times, but never during consecutive, separately elected legislative sessions. That’s necessary to send the measure to the ballot for ratification for voters.

This year, lawmakers could have done so but opted instead to remove a second sentence that would have also banned civil unions in Indiana. The decision to alter the language meant that the multi-year process for amending the constitution started over.

Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, has been fighting efforts in Indiana to put a ban on same sex marriage into the Indiana Constitution. He said Wednesday that “for years now, the people of this state have been dragged through what is turning out to be a completely unnecessary debate on matters that should be left to personal choice.

“The tide is changing across our country, as more judges and legislatures decide that we do not need to be involved with this issue,” Pelath said. “In Indiana, we need to take heed of this change. We need to stop this debate now. It is pointless to continue.”

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  • polygamy first
    If we are going to try another stupid social experiment and redefine marriage let's start with polygamy. At least a child will have their natural mother and father. If this goes well let's try arranged marriage. Last and most certainly the least on the list of groups is the unnatural same sex groups.
  • Keep Evolving!
    There is no good reason to deny that we must keep evolving until an adult, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, monogamy or polyamory, race, or religion is free to marry any and all consenting adults. The limited same-gender freedom to marry is a great and historic step, but is NOT full marriage equality, because equality "just for some" is not equality. Let's stand up for EVERY ADULT'S right to marry the person(s) they love. Get on the right side of history!
  • @Alex
    Alex, if you want to work on a ban against sibling marriage, I'm right there with you. It seems you don't have any arguments against gay marriage though. I'm happy to listen to any that you have, but slippery slope arguments relate to drawing lines, and that's what we pay our judges, legislators and governmental executives to do. And if you think society doesn't approve of gay marriage or it's some tyranny of the minority or gay activists, I can't help you. You're simply not paying attention.
  • @JF
    By the way: society has not decided to allow same sex marriage - some judges did against the will of the majority of the population.
  • @JF
    Dear JF, Why do you think marriage of siblings is dangerous? Do you think marriage is the prerequisite for intercourse? If you argue this way, you basically argue in a biological way, which also disqualifies gay marriage. If you say that marriage simply means that two consenting adults should be able to marry, you cannot take this right away just because these two adults are somehow related. Why would two gay men be able to file their taxes jointly while a household of a brother and a sister (or two brothers, or a guy with his mom) would not be allowed to do this? Is the sexual attraction of two men somehow worthy of more protection by law than the platonic love between two sibling?
  • @Alex
    You liken gay marriage to sibling marriage because you have absolutely zero argument on the merits against gay marriage. When you have to resort to arguing slippery slope, you have lost the argument because we as a society elect or appoint our legislature, executives and judiciary to draw those lines within our society. We, as a society, have chosen to outlaw sibling marriage because it is dangerous (and frankly nobody wants it, that's why nobody except you stuggling conservatives ever brings it up). That is also why we as a society have chosen to draw the line permitting same sex marriage. It is just, fair, and not dangerous. History dating back to the Civil Rights Movement and court cases permitting interracial marriage prove that the sibling marriage slippery slope argument is and always will be a loser. Come up with something on the merits or be destined to lose.
  • @Lucy
    "However, the stupid reached a new level with the brothers marrying brothers comment. By that "logic" why haven't brothers and sisters wed, since it's ok for opposite sex couples to marry?" Dear Lucy, until recently, marriage was defined in a historic way, which also made sense biologically. Two men cannot create children, two women cannot create children and chances that siblings create sick babies are pretty high. It was not the supporters of traditional marriage that decided to allow two men and two women to marry, but the liberals. So if you allow these groups to marry, why do you still prohibit siblings to marry? Apparently marriage is neither about biology, history, religion or tradition. So why is it still now allowed for siblings to marry (or other relatives)? I thought it is all about "two consenting adults"?
  • goats, pigs, etc.
    Why are conservatives so obsessed with goats and pigs? And why are they so obsessed with what others do (or don't do)? Have they no lives of their own? These people need to get a grip.
  • In other news...
    In other news, White Supremacists are being discriminated against because, well, they're White Supremacists. I have, unfortuanately, seen this called "Obama's Plan for America." Those people who say that are mistaken. This is, happily and simply, America's plan for itself.
  • As we see...
    As we see here on the message board, the opposition can clearly not make any logical arguments against it. They throw out the old "Now people will marry goats!" stupidity - However, the stupid reached a new level with the brothers marrying brothers comment. By that "logic" why haven't brothers and sisters wed, since it's ok for opposite sex couples to marry? It's like they're incapable of critical thinking. I feel sorry for people like that. Life must be so difficult for them. Congrats to all the couple who were able to marry today!
  • Observer
    Did I miss something? I didn't read anything about banning same-sex sex. Just how a state defines what marriage is within its borders. Kind of like how the IRS defines what a dependent is, or a corporation is.
  • Hysterical Stuff
    Amazing how many irrational comments have appeared here over something that will have absolutely no impact on the people making the comments.
  • @Grog
    It's actually 21 judges. Well, 22 judges if you count the panel of judges that voted down the other ban yesterday. Well,27 if you count the Supreme Courts ruling on Prop 8 in CA. This is an issue that is winding it's way to the Supreme Court and much like Loving v Virginia in 1967 will be decided there very soon.
  • Justice
    It may be disheartening to read some of the negative reaction, but justice will ultimately prevail in the face of ignorance and bigotry. If respecting the love of two consenting adult people is somehow indicative of some moral or ethical decline, it is time to re-evaluate the meaning behind the words. GLBT folks deserve the legal rights to protect themselves and their families, along with the recognition that straight couples take for granted.
  • too bad
    .....and they bore such a resemblance to each other....together with their table manners....
  • Pig
    My brother married a pig but he divorced her last year.
    • Pet Goats
      When Indiana grants pet goats the full rights of other citizens, then it should be OK for them to marry other citizens. Since goats are not citizens of the state, they do not get the right to marry. Citizens do get that right whether they are male or female. This is the way it should be in my opinion.
    • A Civics Lesson
      Badly needed by some. This is a constitutional issue. Constitutional issues are federal issues. Federal issues trump "states rights." Always.
    • @Chelsea
      "This ruling allows two CONSENTING, UNRELATED ADULTS to marry each other." So why do they have to be unrelated? This is discrimination based on heritage! If biology is entirely ignored in the marriage debate, then why should a guy not be able to marry his sister or grandmother? Don't get me wrong, I think marriage should be a religious, personal thing and government should be out of it entirely. In my opinion, people's taxes, visiting rights etc. should not be determined by their luck of finding a partner.
    • Be nice
      IBJ does not remove comments just because somebody else disagrees with them. We will remove comments that directly insult another reader by calling them names or questioning their intelligence. We understand there is strong disagreement over this issue, but readers are urged to remain civil.
    • Seriously
      IBJ is quite good at censoring those they do not like. I WILL marry that pet goat!
    • Feds
      To me this has nothing to do with gay rights. What I see is the feds stomping on States rights. Whats the point of having state laws when the Feds ( 1 judge mind you) can step in and tell us what to do??
    • RE: Evan Bour
      Evan Bour, your post is absolutely ridiculous. There is no slippery slope here. This ruling allows two CONSENTING, UNRELATED ADULTS to marry each other. Your absurd examples are just that, absurd.
    • not many years ago, sodomy was a prison offense
      So what has changed, the moral fabric of America has crumbled and liberals have infested society,bringing down the moral, ethical laws of the country and with it, the downfall of society. What next.
    • Stay Away!
      I love how the same people that have a motto, which states, "Don't tread on me" also want to tread into every bedroom in the State of Indiana. I say, let them tread into my bedroom! Let the government and the "family" groups see what goes on in there. In fact, I can set up a live feed of a webcam directly into every church and the Statehouse so they can see every single detail, since that is what they seem to want. Then, they can decide if they would like to continue to "tread on me."
      • Mike Delph and AFA
        Anyone have the twitter handles for Mike Delph and those folks from the "family" organizations. I bet there are some great comments from them.
      • Ban on Ignorance
        Instead of a ban on gay marriage, i wish we could implement a ban on ignorance, or at least the prevalence of it on this message board.
      • @Evan Boer
        Banning gay marriage is definitely NOT the will of the Hoosiers. However, it IS the will of the ignorant members of the Tea Party and the ridiculously Religious Right. They should all read the Bible that they claim to have knowledge of. Specifically, they should read the book of Leviticus and then tell the rest of society that they have no sin and can therefore rightfully judge everyone else.
      • @MarkusR
        So can two brothers declare taxes jointly? Or can they adopt kids together? As far as I could follow the gay marriage debate, it is not about individual rights but about the "right to marry". Why are these consenting adults not allowed to marry? If marriage is simply defined as a union of two consenting adults and tradition and moral is ignored (and the whole gay marriage debate is about this), then every person should be allowed to marry every person.
      • We haven't heard from...
        We can probably expect a visit from the kooks of the Westboro "Baptist Church"
      • Oh my lord
        These are the kind of people who read the IBJ website?!?
      • What's next?
        The "pet goat" (per comment above) may not be far off....
      • More brothers
        I guess some people don't realize their brothers are already in their family, and that if they are interest in weird kink, they don't need to get "married" to do it. But these same people have a hard time understanding the term "consent", so I suppose it is understandable.
      • Brothers
        I wish I could marry my brother. Mike is cool.
      • Yuck
        What a travesty. One man overruling the will of the Hoosiers in this state. What is next? Being able to marry your brother? Marrying a five year old? Marrying your pet goat? What a slippery slope we are now on!
      • Who can marry?
        Can two brothers marry now? How about two sisters? If not, why not?
      • My thoughts
        Homosexuality is absolutely appalling. However, my feelings should not determine whether or not two people can marry one another. I don't support them, but they should be able to marry if that's what they choose.
      • All quite of the western front
        Hum no earthquake or fire and brimstone!

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