Gay Wedding Held In Aurora As Appeals Court Halts Same-Sex Marriages
By Mike Perleberg
(left to right) Jack Gerwin is marriage to his partner, Joe Dishon, during a brief ceremony officiated by Lane Siekman at Aurora’s Lesko Park on Friday, June 27. It may be the first gay wedding in Dearborn County. Mike Perleberg, Eagle 99.3
(Aurora, Ind.) – One of Dearborn County’s first legally wed gay couples – perhaps even the very first – could be the last depending on the outcome of an ongoing court battle.
Joe Dishon and Jack Gerwin exchanged vows at Aurora’s Lesko Park overlooking the Ohio River Friday afternoon. As might be expected with a hastily organized wedding, only a handful of friends turned out to witness the occasion.
“It makes me feel great to finally get married to the man I love,” said Gerwin, a Michigan native now living in Dearborn County.
“We get the equal treatment the same as everybody else finally. We lose our second-class citizenship. So we’re pretty happy about that,” said Dishon.
The couple has been together for a couple years. Dishon said that he and his partner were on the phone with the Dearborn County Clerk of Courts as soon as he heard the news of gay marriages being allowed in Indiana on Wednesday.
Other same-sex Hoosier couples who have not yet been wed may have to wait. Also Friday afternoon, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued an emergency order in favor of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s request for a stay against Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young declaring Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The latest development in the legal battle stops gay marriages that have been happening throughout the state since Wednesday, as county clerks were required to issue marriage licenses to comply with Young’s ruling.
“County clerks will be notified that under the stay granted Friday, June 27, Indiana’s marriage laws are again fully in force pursuant to the 7th Circuit’s order,” a statement from Zoeller’s office on Friday read.
Gay marriage supporters were, of course, disappointed with the appeals court’s stay. Hoosiers Unite for Marriage Coordinator Kyle Megrath said his organization delivered 12,000 petitions to the attorney general’s office in Indianapolis Friday asking Zoeller not to pursue an appeal of Young’s ruling.
“More than anything, this is a terrible blow to the legally wedded Indiana couples and their families who were finally — after so long — recognized this week under Indiana law,” Megrath said.
The fate of the state’s marriage law rests with the appeals court, for now. However, no marriage equality battle in any state is likely to be settled until an eventual decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) representing southeast Indiana, said he will continue to support marriage between a man and a woman. Frye acknowledged the final say on gay marriage in Indiana won’t be made in the legislature.
“Ultimately the decision concerning Indiana’s same sex marriage ban lays with the Supreme Court,” Frye said.
Rising Sun attorney Lane Siekman, who has twice run as a Democrat for Indiana’s 6th congressional district and has advocated for marriage equality, served as the officiant at Dishon and Gerwin’s small ceremony. He signed off on the marriage license on a picnic table beneath a park pavilion.
The grooms have both been openly gay for some time. They said that their plans to marry have been well received by most they talk to.
“It’s been a very warm reception,” said Dishon, an employee at a local casino.
With same-sex marriage laws bounding through state and federal courts across the nation, Dishon said that he and Gerwin are closely watching.
“We’ve followed every case since the first one. I’m actually shocked that Indiana’s not the last, to be honest with you,” said Dishon.