Indiana county clerks told to allow gay marriages

The Indiana attorney general's office told county clerks across the state Tuesday that they must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The office said it sent the message soon after a federal appeals court in Chicago formally lifted Indiana's gay marriage ban, by ending a stay that was in place while the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether to hear appeals from Indiana and four other states seeking to keep their gay marriage bans.

The appeals court action came a day after the Supreme Court said it wouldn't hear those appeals.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Matt Light told clerks in Indiana's 92 counties they are "prohibited from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples so long as all other marriage license requirements are met."

The message said the state health department is updating electronic license applications to accommodate same-sex marriages.

Such marriages in Indiana had been blocked since a few days after District Judge Richard Young in Evansville in June struck down the state's ban. In those days in between, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples rushed to get married.

Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller had defended Indiana's gay marriage ban against the legal challenges, but acknowledged that Monday's Supreme Court action invalidated that law.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence said his administration will follow the court's decisions even though he remained committed to traditional marriage.

Pence's office sent a memo to state agencies Tuesday directing them to provide equal state benefits or recognitions to married same-sex couples — whether they were married in Indiana or another state.

"Executive branch agencies are to recognize same-sex marriages in the same manner as they recognize heterosexual marriages," said the memo from Mark Ahearn, Pence's chief counsel.

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