AG offers county clerks guidance on same-sex marriage questions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office issued a memo to county clerks July 1 attempting to clear the confusion lingering from the several days when same-sex marriage was legal in Indiana.

Careful to qualify its memo as “guidance” rather than “private legal advice,” the attorney general again reiterated that the validity of the same-sex marriages solemnized between June 25 and 27 remains undetermined and likely an issue a court will have to decide.

However, the attorney general did recommend that clerks and judges no longer marry any gay or lesbian couples until a conclusive ruling is issued on the appeal. For marriage licenses which were obtained during the two-day window but not returned until after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay, clerks should respect the Circuit Court order and no longer process or record the solemnized same-sex marriage certificates.

In addition, the attorney general said clerks and judges who perform a same-sex marriage ceremony while the stay is in place could face charges for a Class C infraction or a Class B misdemeanor. Penalties are a fine up to $500 for the former offense and up to 80 days in jail plus a possible fine up to $1,000 for the latter offense.

The attorney general’s office is also recommending county clerks consult with their county attorneys, said Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the Indiana attorney general. The guidance, Corbin continued, is not an “official legal opinion of the Attorney General’s Office” but is intended to assist clerks as they navigate unfamiliar legal terrain.

County clerks across Indiana fielded many requests for marriage licenses from same-sex couples after a federal judge ruled Indiana’s marriage law violated the U.S. Constitution. Richard Young, chief judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, issued his decision June 25.

The attorney general immediately filed a motion to stay the injunction pending appeal, but when District Court did not rule, the state filed another motion to stay with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 27. The Circuit Court granted the motion two hours later.

On June 30, attorneys representing Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler filed an emergency motion with the 7th Circuit to lift the stay in part. The northern Indiana couple who is struggling with the terminal illness of Quasney had their motion for relief which required the state recognize their marriage granted in May.

Attorneys from Lambda Legal who represent the couple as part of Baskin v. Bogan, argue the emergency motion should be granted because Quasney may not live to see the conclusion of the state’s appeal.

The Indiana attorney general met the 7th Circuit’s deadline of noon July 1 to file its response to Lambda Legal’s motion. The state advocated for the stay to include Quasney and Sandler because the law provided no hardship exceptions.  



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon