Assertion of state’s rights may not support same-sex marriage ban

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Indiana is contenting that states have the authority to define marriage, but the federal court and the ACLU of Indiana have given little merit to the state’s arguments for maintaining a ban on same-sex marriage.  

“The court agrees with Defendants that marriage and domestic relations are generally left to the states,” U.S. District Court for the Southern Indiana District Chief Judge Richard Young wrote in granting a same-sex couple’s motion for a temporary restraining order. “Nevertheless, the restrictions put in place by the state must comply with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection of the laws and due process.”

 Likewise, the ACLU of Indiana conceded the state has a legitimate interest in regulating and promoting marriage within constitutional bounds. However, the individual retains the right to choose his or her spouse.

Young granted the TRO for plaintiffs Amy Sandler and Nikole Quasney, who are parties in Baskin et al v. Bogan et al., 1:14-cv-0355, the challenge to Indiana’s marriage law filed by Lambda Legal. He ordered the state to recognize the Massachusetts marriage of Sandler and Quasney and, should Quasney lose her battle with ovarian cancer, the state will list Sandler as the surviving spouse on the death certificate.

Indiana argued against the TRO, in part, on the grounds that states have the authority to define marriage and the District Court opinions favoring recognition have misunderstood United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013). The state argues no one has the right to have his or her marriage recognized, but rather recognition is left to the states.

Young found that argument did not give the state a legitimate reason to deny an individual’s right to equal protection. He was also dismissive of the state’s interest in opposite-sex marriage as a way to ensure children are well cared for.

“…the court finds there will likely be insufficient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify the singling out of same-sex married couples for non-recognition,” Young wrote. “The court thus finds that Plaintiffs have at least some likelihood of success on the merits because ‘the principal effect’ of Indiana’s statute ‘is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.’”

The ACLU of Indiana addressed the key arguments for banning gay and lesbian marriage in its motion for summary judgment on behalf of its clients in Midori Fujii v. Governor, State of Indiana, et al., 1:14-cv-00404.

Charging that Indiana’s marriage law is in violation of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, the ACLU asserted its clients have a fundament right to marry and have their marriages recognized by the state.

“The fundamental right to marry, like any fundamental right, is defined by the substance of the right itself, not the characteristics of the individuals asserting it,” the ACLU argued. “The plaintiffs seek the right to marry, a right long-recognized as fundamental. The fact that their identities or characteristics may be different from those individuals that have asserted the right previously does not change the fundamental right at issue.”



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues