— Gay newlyweds pushed back Thursday against a legal move that would cast
their marriages into limbo the day after a federal judge struck down the
state's ban on same-sex marriage.
court documents asking U.S. District Judge Richard Young to deny the
attorney general's request to put the ruling on hold while the state
appeals. The ruling, which immediately allowed same-sex couples to marry
after it was issued Wednesday afternoon, deemed the state law
to marry seemed undeterred by the legal wrangling as they waited in a line
stretching onto the sidewalk outside the Marion County clerk's office
before it opened Thursday morning. Officials said 186 same-sex couples
were wed there Wednesday after the office stayed open late to accommodate
the influx of couples.
whether those marriages would be recognized if Young puts his order on
hold. Similar rulings have been made in several states, and the issue is
expected to eventually end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the Indiana
case, the national gay rights group representing several couples suing the
state filed court documents asking that Young allow his ruling to stand.
argued that putting the ruling on hold would be unfair to gay couples,
especially a lesbian couple already granted an exception to the
prohibition because one has a terminal illness. Young has ordered the
state to list Amy Sandler as the spouse of Niki Quasney, who is dying of
"The duration of
an appeal likely would prevent Niki, Amy and their children from
experiencing the dignity and comfort of a legal marriage as the family
struggles with the agony, stress, grief and uncertainty families confront
as a parent and beloved spouse battles cancer," the group's attorneys
wrote. "Niki, Amy and their children do not have the luxury of time."
Attorney General's Office asked Young to stay his order late Wednesday,
arguing that it was "premature to require Indiana to change its definition
of marriage" while it appeals the ruling.
predict that Young will rule within a week.
The U.S. Supreme
Court struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay-marriage
advocates, though many of those are being appealed.
what Young decides in Indiana, local gay-rights supporters say his ruling
was an important step forward.
things are changing is because we're out, and because people are getting
to know us because we're out there and we have normal lives and normal
families," said Melody Layne, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits
challenging Indiana's ban. Layne married her partner, Tara Betterman, in
New York, and they have a daughter.
challenged by the lawsuits defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
The state also had refused to recognize same-sex marriages performed in
states where it is legal, but Young ordered the state to recognize such
unions and to allow same-sex couples to file joint tax returns, receive
pension benefits and have their partners listed as spouses on death
Indiana's ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution's equal
protection clause and bucked the tide of history, citing similar rulings
in other federal court districts.
when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects
like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat
them as such," Young wrote.
The ruling sent
couples flocking to clerks' offices across the state in a quest for
marriage licenses, but not all were successful. Some counties declined to
issue licenses until they received guidance from the attorney general's
which came late Wednesday afternoon, instructed the five counties named in
the lawsuits to comply with Young's order or face contempt of court. It
urged the other 87 counties to "show respect for the judge and the orders
that are issued."
Ken Falk, legal
director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, called
Wednesday an "excellent, excellent day for marriage" in Indiana. The ACLU
also represented several couples who challenged the ban.
"Marriage is, in
many ways, the most conservative institution in human society. It's the
way we bind ourselves — forever — to someone we love," Falk said.
they had feared the day when judges would issue rulings that trumped state
laws enshrining marriage as between one man and one woman.
what any judge says, marriage is about uniting men and women together for
the best interests of children and society," American Family Association
of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark said in a statement.