Federal suit filed against Indiana marriage statute

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While Indiana’s same-sex marriage amendment is on hold in the Legislature, a challenge to the state’s law banning same-sex marriage was filed March 7 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Four same-sex couples living in Clark and Floyd counties filed the lawsuit against Gov. Mike Pence, challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s law that prohibits issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and does not recognize such marriages legally performed in other states.

In Love et al v. Pence, 4:14-cv-15, the couples are asking for an injunctive order directing the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; an injunction enjoining the state from denying same-sex couples the rights, burdens and benefits associated with lawful marriage; and an order directing the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The plaintiffs are represented by Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC and Fauver Law Office PLLC, both in Louisville, Ky.

“My clients are part of Indiana. They work there, they raise their children there, they pay taxes there,” attorney Dan Canon said. “My clients are certainly ready to see the same-sex marriage ban lifted.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said his office will defend Indiana’s marriage statute.

“As state government’s lawyer, I must defend the state’s authority to define marriage at the state level within Indiana’s borders,” Zoeller said in a press release. “People of goodwill have sincere differences of opinion on the marriage definition, but I hope Hoosiers can remain civil to each other as this legal question is litigated in the federal court.”

Attorneys representing the Indiana plaintiffs also represented same-sex couples in Kentucky who filed a similar suit challenging the commonwealth’s statute and constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Also, the constitutional arguments being made in the Indiana complaint were asserted in the Kentucky suit, Love et al. v. Beshear, et al., 3:13-cv-750.

Both suits claim the bans on same-sex marriage violated the due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the Indiana plaintiffs argue the state’s ban violates the First Amendment’s freedom of association and establishment provisions.

The Kentucky plaintiffs were given a victory when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky Judge John G. Heyburn struck down the commonwealth’s marriage amendment and part of the marriage law on constitutional grounds.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has refused to appeal Heyburn’s ruling, prompting Gov. Steven Beshear to say he would then hire outside counsel to defend the ban.

Noting that constitutional arguments against same-sex marriage laws have been successful in federal courts across the country, Canon said the plaintiffs are confident the southern Indiana District Court will “do the right thing.”



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