UDPATE: Indiana’s Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down; Local Couples Getting Licenses
By Mike Perleberg
Update posted at 4:13 p.m.:
Dearborn County Clerk of Courts Rick Probst said that he allowed a gay couple to fill out their application just short of issuing the marriage license, but he will now distribute licenses to all couples.
In a conversation with Eagle 99.3, a member of the male couple, who went to the clerk’s office within minutes of the U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young’s historic ruling, accused Probst of being bigoted.
Probst said he first wanted to receive guidance from the Indiana Attorney General before allowing the license to the couple.
“I have since received guidance from the attorney general at 3:44 this afternoon. I expect that we will be issuing licenses this afternoon,” Probst said, adding that an email from the attorney general asked county clerks to respect the federal decision.
“It takes a little bit of time for the wheels of bureaucracy to work,” Probst said.
Probst said that marriage licenses will be issued to all couples as of 4:10 Wednesday afternoon. The clerk’s office closes at 4:30 p.m., but will reopen as normal on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Regarding the state marriage license form which only allows for the entry of a male and female applicant, Probst said that will be handled with a simple “pen and ink change.”
Meanwhile, Ripley County Clerk of Courts Mary Ann McCoy says that her office has fielded a handful of phone calls regarding marriage licenses for gay couples Wednesday afternoon. However, no same-sex couple has been into the clerk’s office to obtain a license.
Update posted at 3:26 p.m.:
Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s office has issued a statement in response to a federal judge’s ruling against Indiana’s law against gay marriage.
“Governor Pence supports the Attorney General’s efforts to appeal the federal court’s ruling and defend Indiana’s right to define the institution of marriage for the residents of our state,” said Pence press secretary Kara Brooks. “Because the Governor believes in the rule of law, the State of Indiana will comply with the federal court’s order as this case moves through the appeals process.”
Original story posted at 2:33 p.m.:
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A federal judge is ruling that Indiana’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Indiana’s Defense of Marriage Act was made law in 2004. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young said it’s “clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love.” The judge said the ruling, which came in a grouping of three separate marriage lawsuits, was counter to the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Young issued a permanent injunction on his ruling, meaning that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana and that same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states are recognized in Indiana. In other words, gay Indiana couples can begin marrying immediately.
The lawsuits were brought last March by the plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, private attorney Sean Lemieux of Lemieux Law Office in Indianapolis, and the national ACLU.
ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk applauded the ruling, saying the court recognizes when the ACLU has always maintained: “That there is simply no justification for treating same-sex couples any differently than other loving couples of opposite genders.”
The ruling may not end the legal battle over marriage law in Indiana. Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office issued a statement saying that the ruling is being reviewed, however, Zoeller has previously indicated that he would file an appeal in the event of such a ruling.
The Attorney General’s Office is communicating with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid “chaos” during the appeal.
There were various media reports of same sex couples rushing to county clerks offices across the state to obtain their now-legal marriage licenses. In Dearborn County, clerk’s office personnel said one male couple visited Wednesday afternoon to apply for their license.
“There was a question because the form only lists a male and a female. We’re waiting to hear back from (the attorney general) on what form to use,” the employee said.
Because the couple had only applied for a license, the clerk’s office would not immediately release their names.
Beyond the couple who came to the office, there have been several more phone calls from people inquiring about a marriage license for a same-sex couple Wednesday.
Reaction to the ruling was almost immediate from gay marriage supporters. Kyle McGrath, marriage coordinator for pro-same sex marriage organization Hoosiers United for Marriage, said it is an extraordinary day for plaintiffs in the cases and all loving, committed couples in the state.
“Not only is Indiana’s marriage ban unconstitutional, but couples are able to get married right away. Today, justice has been done, and love wins,” McGrath said. “We know this could be the start of a long legal fight, and we’re ready to stand strong for loving, committed couples to have the right to marry in Indiana.
McGrath said HUM has already gathered more than 2,000 signatures asking Zoeller not to appeal the case.