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AG offers county clerks guidance on same-sex marriage questions

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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.  


 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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