Zoeller to defend Indiana marriage law against suit

Associated Press
March 7, 2014
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Four gay couples from southern Indiana sued the state Friday, seeking to force Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state and issue licenses to same-sex couples.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New Albany, asks a federal judge to overturn Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, which declares same-sex marriages void even if another state recognizes the union.

"How long do you wait before you decide 'I think I'd like to stand up for myself'," said 66-year-old Lane Stumler of New Albany, who wants to marry his longtime partner Michael Drury. "How long do you wait to say that?"

Multiple rulings around the country have struck down same-sex marriage bans recently — from Texas to neighboring Kentucky. Those all came in the wake of a June ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court that nullified part of the federal anti-gay-marriage law.

Dan Canon, one of several attorneys who are representing this suit's plaintiffs and also handling a similar one in Kentucky, said the attempt this legislative session to add a gay marriage ban to the Indiana's constitution pushed the plaintiffs to move now.

The state's lawmakers approved an altered version of the proposed amendment, but it won't go in front of voters this November. Such proposals must be twice approved by the Legislature, unchanged and in consecutive legislative sessions, in order to appear on the ballot. Plus, some argued that the U.S. Supreme Court would likely be the final arbiter of the issue.

"I think it's fairly clear the people of Indiana cannot depend upon the legislature and the governor to do what is right, so we're turning to the federal courts to do it," Canon said during a news conference in his office in Louisville, Ky.

Already, Indiana law limits marriage to being between one man and one woman, and the state only recognizes out-of-state marriages of the same ilk. Putting a same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution would protect against state-level legal challenges, but would not affect federal suits like the one filed Friday.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Friday he will defend the law in court.

"People of goodwill have sincere differences of opinion on the marriage definition, but I hope Hoosiers can remain civil to each other as this legal question is litigated in the federal court," Zoeller said in a statement.

The Indiana couples head to court less than a month after U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville issued an opinion Feb. 12 that Kentucky's ban on recognizing same-sex marriages violated the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause in the 14th Amendment because it treated "gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them."

Unless an appeals court issues a delay, Kentucky will have to grant full legal rights to same-sex couples starting March 20, meaning people can seek name changes, add names to adoption certificates and file joint state tax returns.

Kentucky's attorney general has opted not to appeal, but Gov. Steve Beshear said he will hire outside counsel to pursue the case.

Heyburn is among several federal judges who have issued rulings in support of same-sex marriage, the latest of which came last week in Texas. Two of the rulings — in Utah and Oklahoma — are being appealed to a federal appeals court in Denver.

Plaintiffs Jo Ann Dale of Otisco, married Carol Uebehoer in Massachusetts six years ago. They've been together 35 years, and Dale said not having legal recognition of their marriage creates a variety of problems, including filing tax returns, making medical and end-of-life decisions and even filling out simple forms that ask about marital status.

"It feels so schizophrenic not to be recognized for who you are," Dale said.

Jennifer Redmond and Jana Kohort married in New York last year. The Jeffersonville couple said they want state recognition to be able to stay in Indiana near family and friends.

Another Jeffersonville couple, Melissa Love and fiancee Erin Brock, said the ban deprives them of more than 1,000 rights granted to opposite-sex married couples who get married.

"We fell in love and we want to get married," Love said. "We want to do it in our hometown."


  • definition
    Jim ... in that case ... you wouldn't see any problem with 3 committed gays or 3 committed lesbians being allowed to marry ... because marriage can be defined as anything that anyone (or any state?) determines it to be?
  • Nicely put Preston
    You said it better than I could...but no one who disagrees with you will change their mind because of the obvious you have pointed out here...little consolation in being right about anything on this thread...
  • Nice one bda1205
    Every now and then, someone comes up with something so silly on this thread that you know it has to be satire...bda 1205 has humorously shed some light on the real reason there are different states...always wondered about that one, how did that happen...guess I got too caught up in history class, missed the obvious, I shouldn't have paid any attention to all that stuff about the Federal Constitution and the Bill of Rights either...his point is well taken...you can always move if you don't like it here, certainly everyone in this state has a paid off mortgage or a home worth much more than they owe on it and buyers in line, a fantastic job with a great manufacuring concern that will transfer them anywhere they want to go, a million dollar 401K and lots of stock options, hoohoo, Colorado and wacky weedus here we come, no wonder Peyton opened up all those Poppa Johns...if our elected officials would concetrate on jobs, education, and creating a welcoming atmosphere for companies and talented workers, instead of posturing over their silly little morality play, maybe more folks in this state would have a stake in the game, and some real choices in life. As for Zoeller, alas, the other Jim is correct...his job is to defend the law that the goofball legislators passed, to waste more money after this idiotic pursuit of some idealized version of morality. By the way Daniel, I hereby authorize you to "redefine" marriage. That is exactly how much authorization it takes...nothing about being an American requires me or anyone else to agree with your definition of it, be your definition biblical or not...some good laughers out here today.
  • Marriage
    I don't believe that anyone is attempting to re-define the definition of marriage, only to recognize that marriage is a secular issue, not a religious one. In addition, when Zoeller the zealot loses, as he will most assuredly do, will he re-pay the taxpayers of our State for the monies that he wasted? Knowing full-well that he will lose, he should be liable for malfeasance, deriliction of duty, and malpractice. Perhaps, when all is said and done, someone with the presence of mind of someone outside of his ilk will bring proceedings against him personally and professionally. We can but hope...
  • How is this any different?
    I suppose now that recreational pot use is legal in Colorado, that people who have used it there without getting arrested will try to say it should be legal in all states now? That is why there are different states people. If you don't like the laws in one, you can move to another more to your liking. If all the laws are the same, why even have different states?
    • Greg Zoeller
      I have met Greg Zoeller, he used to come in to the place where I have coffee daily. I doubt that Greg is personally for gay marriage, but that is beside the point. It is a legislated law, one of his jobs is to defend legislated laws. People don't seem to understand that we have a government of laws enacted by representatives that we elected. If Greg wins this case, then the people will need to revisit it via their representatives, maybe by replacing them. If he loses then the law goes away. Unfortunately there are far too many people in opposition to the First Amendment, who think that the Bible should be considered when making laws. I will bet few if any of those folks would support stoning a woman because she was not a virgin on her wedding night, but that is also in the Bible.
    • definition
      When exactly did the definition of marriage get "re-defined"? Who was authorized to redefine it?
    • To: Concerned Citizen
      How about Article 1 Section 23? "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." All the Indiana senators and representatives that voted for HJR-3 should be impeached for not upholding the Indiana constitution. Zeoller should be removed from office if he chooses to fight this case.
    • Waste of time & money
      Zoeller needs to get a clue, it's over, marriage equality will be the law of the land soon. STOP wasting my money propping up discrimination and bigotry!
    • "Unconstitutional"
      Please direct me to the Article or Amendment of the Constitution that restricts a state's ability to regulate marriage.
    • Sad....Sad...Sad
      Why is Indiana marching headlong into the dark ages? Whether gays marry or not, makes no difference to me or my marriage so why are defending unconstitutional laws?
    • $$$
      The "fiscal conservatives" continue to show they are full of it by wasting taxpayer money defending unconstitutional laws.
    • Headline correction
      "Zoeller to waste taxpayers' time and money defending Indiana marriage law against suit"

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