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. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

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  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."