A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but stayed the ruling until the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could decide on the issue.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young decided Indiana should recognize the marriage of Michelle and Shannon Bowling of Indianapolis, who were married in Polk County, Iowa, on Jan. 18, 2011. Shannon Bowling is employed by the Indiana Department of Correction, and the couple sued to seek state benefits for Michelle Bowling and her children from a previous relationship.
A third plaintiff, Linda Bruner of Greenfield, is seeking a dissolution from her wife, whom she married in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 20, 2010, but a court in Indianapolis has said it has no authority to dissolve a same-sex marriages, the ruling said. Young's ruling says she can seek the dissolution if the 7th Circuit upholds the decision.
The 7th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments next week on the state's appeal of a June 25 ruling by Young throwing out Indiana's same-sex marriage ban. Hundreds of same-sex couples were married in Indiana in the few days after the ruling and before the 7th Circuit issued a stay of that ruling.
"The phenomenon that the court previously observed has continued to grow. Since issuing its prior orders, two circuit courts have found bans similar to Indiana's to be unconstitutional. This court reaffirms that conclusion." Young wrote in his ruling.
The Indiana Attorney General's Office had sought the stay in the Bowling-Bruner case, spokesman Bryan Corbin said,
"As the lawyer for the state government, the Indiana Attorney General's Office has a duty to defend Indiana's statute—passed by the people's elected representatives in the Legislature—from lawsuits that plaintiffs' lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal."
A message seeking comment was left for the Bowlings' and Bruner's attorneys.