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Plaintiffs say they joined same-sex marriage lawsuit because ‘We wanted to be married’

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Although oral arguments in the Indiana same-sex marriage lawsuits will not be heard until late August, plaintiffs in one of the cases are hoping the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals acts quickly so their challenge can be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Lambda Legal and some of the plaintiffs the organization represents in Baskin, et al. v. Bogan, et al., 1:14-cv-0355, spoke at a special forum on marriage equality Thursday evening in Indianapolis. Attorneys recapped the status of same-sex marriage lawsuits across the country and answered questions during the 90-minute event at the Indiana Landmarks Center.

An estimated 160 individuals attended.

In June, a federal court judge issued a ruling in Baskin and two other same-sex marriage complaints that Indiana’s statute defining marriage as only between one man and one woman was unconstitutional. Those three cases are now awaiting a hearing by the 7th Circuit.

The state appealed and the 7th Circuit had originally scheduled oral arguments for Aug. 13. However, that date was vacated after the Indiana Attorney General’s Office filed a motion asking the appellate court to hear the appeal en banc.

According to the court’s docket, the arguments have been rescheduled for Aug. 26. The motion to hear the cases en banc was denied.

“We want this case to go before the 7th Circuit sooner because we ultimately believe that the decision will rest with the United States Supreme Court,” said Paul Castillo, attorney for Lambda Legal. “We know that there are cases all across the country that are moving forward and we are eager to present our strong arguments as soon as possible.”

During the event, the lead plaintiffs in the Lambda Legal case, Marilyn Rae Baskin and Esther Fuller, were recognized with a loud applause from the audience.

At the conclusion of the event, Baskin explained their reasons for being part of the lawsuit.

“We wanted to be married,” she said. “Just like any other couple who’s been together and has a relationship, our relationship has value. We should be able to be married like every other family and enjoy the protections, enjoy the validity.”

Baskin and Fuller have been together for 24 years and live in Johnson County. After the Supreme Court of the United States knocked down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the 2012 Windsor ruling, the couple contacted Lambda Legal to find out what their rights would be if they were to get married in a state that recognizes same-sex unions.

Lambda Legal eventually asked Baskin and Fuller if they wanted to join the fight against Indiana’s marriage law.

Fuller said the couple had concerns but decided to sign on to the lawsuit.  

“Somebody has to do it,” Fuller said. “It’s like somebody has to say I’m not going to move to the back of the bus, thank you very much.”   

The 7th Circuit did consolidate the three same-sex marriage cases from Indiana with one case from Wisconsin. All the plaintiffs from the Indiana lawsuits will file a single brief with the appellate court July 29. About a week later, all the organizations and individuals supporting the Indiana same-sex couples are expected to file amicus briefs with the court.

The families in Baskin are joining the families in Midori Fujii, et al. v. Indiana Governor, et al., 1:14-cv-00404, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, and Lee, et al. v. Pence, et al., 1:14-cv-00406, filed by a legal team led by Karen Celestino-Horseman, William Groth, Mark Sniderman and Kathleen Sweeney.  

“While the different cases describe unique harms of their own individual plaintiffs, the legal arguments are the same across the three cases,” Castillo said. “So what I see in this brief is we’re speaking with one unique voice on behalf of the citizens of the state of Indiana who support the freedom to marry.”
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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