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Same-sex couples tell 7th Circuit Indiana’s marriage ban is discriminatory

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Plaintiffs challenging Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage filed their appellate brief with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals July 29, making their argument that the state’s marriage law violates their constitutional rights.

As ordered by the court, the plaintiffs from the three separate lawsuits that overturned Indiana’s marriage statute in the District Court worked together and filed one brief. They asserted prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying violates the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

The brief states that Indiana’s marriage ban “deprives same-sex couples of equal dignity and autonomy in the most intimate sphere of their lives and brands them as inferior to other married couples in Indiana, denying them state and federal protections, responsibilities, and benefits, and inviting ongoing discrimination from third parties.

“This deprivation violates due process by infringing upon the fundamental right to marry, and it violates equal protection by treating same-sex and different-sex couples differently for no reason other than to impose second-class citizenship on a targeted group.”

The brief was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in Marilyn Rae Baskin, et al. v. Greg Zoeller, et al., the suit brought by the national gay rights organization Lambda Legal; Midori Fujii, et al. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Revenue, et al., filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; and Pamela Lee, et al. v. Brian Abbott, et al., brought by a legal team led by William Groth of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe LLP.

National organizations and individuals supporting freedom to marry are expected to file amicus briefs in the coming days.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has already filed its brief with the 7th Circuit.

Plaintiffs argued against the Indiana’s contention that states have the authority to define and regulate marriage. Describing the states’ rights argument as a “sleight-of-hand,” the plaintiffs maintained state laws cannot contravene constitutional rights.

Also, same-sex couples scoffed at the state’s procreation argument.

“While the State argues that marriage is a mere ‘regulation’ and ‘a means of enticing individuals whose sexual intercourse may produce children to enter voluntarily into a relationship that the government recognizes and regulates,’ this narrow definition cannot be reconciled with the autonomy protected by the State for those who choose to marry,” plaintiffs stated in their brief. “Married couples may have children, but they need not and often do not. Spouses need not pass a fertility test, intend to procreate, be of childbearing age, have any parenting skills, or account for any history of childbearing or support.”

Last week, the 7th Circuit set Aug. 26 as the date it will hear oral arguments for the case challenging Indiana’s marriage law and for the lawsuit against Wisconsin’s marriage ban.

Marilyn Rae Baskin, lead plaintiff in the Lambda Legal lawsuit, said the lawsuit has been a rollercoaster ride. She is impatient for a final decision and, describing supporters of same-sex marriage as being on the right side of history, said she is confused why Indiana is continuing to fight against same-sex marriage.

“Fill the potholes,” she admonished the state. “Take care of the budget, solve crime, work on education. This should be a non-issue. It’s discriminatory and that’s its only reason for existence.”




 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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