INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages faced a new challenge Thursday in a
federal lawsuit announced by a national gay rights group on behalf of three
lesbian couples from across the state.
Lambda Legal argues
in the lawsuit that the equal protection rights of the couples from
Whitestown, Chesterton and Munster are being violated because they can’t
marry in Indiana and the state won’t recognize same-sex marriages performed
“We just want what
everyone else has in Indiana - a real, honest and legal marriage,” said
co-plaintiff Rae Baskin of Whitestown, about 20 miles northwest of
Indianapolis. Baskin, 60, and partner Esther Fuller, 78, have been together
24 years. “We are a family. Esther loves me unconditionally and I can’t
imagine life without her.”
The lawsuit was
filed Monday in federal court in Indianapolis. A similar lawsuit was filed
last week by four couples from southern Indiana.
attorney Paul Castillo said “many families are helped and no one is hurt
when same-sex couples are treated fairly by their government.”
“Even if couples
travel out of state to marry, they will still be denied any respect by the
state of Indiana, and there are many important federal benefits, such as
Family Medical Leave, that will be denied because those benefits are based
on whether or not the home state respects the marriage,” Castillo said in a
General Greg Zoeller issued a statement saying his office would defend the
state’s marriage laws.
plaintiffs are Bonne Everly, 56, and Linda Judkins, 57, of Chesterton, who
have been together 13 years; and Dawn Lynn Carver, 41, and Pamela Eanes, 50,
of Munster, together 17 years, Lambda Legal said. The lawsuit names as
defendants Zoeller and the clerks of the three counties where the plaintiffs
The lawsuits follow
Indiana’s legislative debate this year on adding a gay marriage ban to the
state constitution and multiple court rulings around the country striking
down such bans. A federal judge last month ruled that Kentucky must
recognize unions performed legally in other places.
The Indiana General
Assembly approved a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban
same-sex marriages but removed language on gay civil unions that had been
approved in 2011. The change forced lawmakers to restart the process to
amend the constitution.