Indiana argues same-sex marriage of terminally ill woman should not be recognized

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While conceding the same-sex marriage lawsuit involving a terminally ill Indiana woman would warrant an exception, the Indiana attorney general maintained no legal exception has been found and the marriage should not be recognized by the state.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office filed its response to an emergency motion which asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift its stay for only two plaintiffs, Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler.  

Lambda Legal, a national gay rights organization that filed one of the five challenges to Indiana’s marriage law, submitted the emergency motion June 30. Quasney, who is terminally ill with Stage IV ovarian cancer, wants the state to recognize Sandler as her spouse.

The emergency motion was filed in response to the 7th Circuit staying a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana that overturned Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 7th Circuit expedited the matter, giving the state until noon July 1 to file a response to Lambda Legal’s motion. The court ordered the state to submit its briefs by July 15 and the plaintiffs to turn in their briefs by July 29.

The Circuit Court stated extensions of time will not be granted except in extraordinary circumstances.

The Indiana attorney general argued the state’s marriage statute allows for no hardship exceptions. Therefore, the ban on same-sex marriage should remain in place while the District Court’s ruling is being appealed.

However, the attorney general did hint if the Circuit Court found an exception, the state would not offer any opposition.  

“Indeed, mindful that this request involves just one couple in very narrow and sympathetic circumstances, and that it is not merely the Court and parties but the general public that is watching this case, the State has extensively researched this matter but can find no provision within our legal system that would allow for some extraordinary relief, or humanitarian exception to the rule of law that would grant what the petitioners request,” the attorney general’s response stated. “If this Court can find such an exception that would apply, this circumstance surely warrants its use.”

Lambda Legal was outraged at the state’s response.   

“Attorney General Zoeller’s callous disregard for this family’s circumstances is heartless, cruel and unbecoming of a public official charged with representing the interests of all Hoosiers,” said Camilla Taylor, marriage project director at Lambda Legal. “He is taking steps that no other attorney general anywhere in the country has in fighting to deny respect to the marriage of only one couple facing very significant health issues.”



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