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1 same-sex marriage lawsuit remains in District Court

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One challenge to Indiana’s same-sex marriage law remains in federal court and could, again, open a window for gay and lesbian couples in the state to get married, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case said.

The lawsuit, Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0405, was not included with the three other cases that Richard Young, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, consolidated in his June 25 ruling overturning Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Richard Mann, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the Bowling case was moving more slowly than the other lawsuits because Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office requested two extensions to file briefs. The plaintiffs have filed a response but have also argued the attorney general’s motion for summary judgment was filed after the deadline so the court should not consider it.

Mann contends that if Young finds Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional and does not immediately issue a stay, same-sex marriage would become legal again in the state. However, Mann noted none of his clients are asking to be married but, rather, to have their out-of-state marriages recognized by Indiana. Therefore, the judge could write a narrow ruling that would only address the issue of recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

On July 14, the attorney general filed a request for a stay of any decision the federal court makes in the Bowling case. The state maintained such action is warranted because of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the District Court’s ruling in the other three same-sex marriage lawsuits.

Robert Katz, professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, would be surprised if Young issues an order and does not immediately grant the stay, especially since the 7th Circuit stopped the enforcement of his previous same-sex marriage ruling.  

Young risks squandering his prestige and reputation if he does not stay his decision in Bowling, Katz said.  

“There’re only so many times you can make a great bold gesture,” Katz said. “He did it, and he did it in a big way.”     

Katz is also a member of the legal team on Lee et al. v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0406.

Like the other lawsuits filed this year against Indiana’s marriage law, the Bowling complaint argues the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The case then raises the following additional arguments that the ban violates:

•    the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment  (the primary purpose of the marriage statute is to further the religious beliefs of the state which fosters an excessive government entanglement in religion);
•    the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution (by not recognizing the plaintiff’s out-of-state marriage, Indiana law is causing uncertainty, unpredictability and non-uniformity which the Full Faith and Credit Clause protects against);
•    the right to travel which has been afforded constitutional protection (Indiana’s refusal to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state places an unreasonable burden on the couples who are then forced to decide to continue living in Indiana or relocate).

In their motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs strongly asserted Gov. Mike Pence is a proper defendant. Young dismissed the first same-sex marriage lawsuit filed this year, Love et al. v. Pence, 4:14-cv-00015, agreeing with the state that the governor did not cause the injuries and has no ability to offer a resolution.

The Bowling parties claim the governor should be a defendant because he does have the power to redress the injuries. Specifically, Pence has the authority over two of the other defendants in the case – the Indiana revenue and state personnel departments – and can order them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Separately, Mann filed an appeal July 14 with the Indiana Court of Appeals on behalf of Linda Bruner, one of the plaintiffs in the federal suit. Bruner is seeking a divorce from her wife and had filed in state court but was denied.

In the Court of Appeals filing, Bruner v. Roberts, 49A05-1407-DR-316, Mann makes the argument that Indiana’s marriage law is unconstitutional.

 
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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