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Same-sex plaintiffs argue the governor enforces marriage statute

May 5, 2014

Plaintiffs in Love v. Pence, the first lawsuit filed in March challenging Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, filed their response to the state’s motion to dismiss their complaint, arguing the governor has the power to order county clerks to issue marriage licenses.  

Represented by Louisville attorneys at Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC and Fauver Law Office PLLC, the plaintiffs filed their opposition to the state’s motion in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana.

Indiana is seeking to have Love dismissed on the grounds that the sole named defendant, Gov. Mike Pence, cannot provide relief. The Indiana attorney general contends the governor does not issue marriage licenses nor does he perform any other function that would recognize marriages solemnized in other states.

The four couples counter that as a “basic matter of civics,” laws are enforced through the executive branch. Therefore, since the governor is the head of the executive branch, he is the proper defendant.

Moreover, granting the state’s motion to dismiss would, in the extreme, mean employees in every county clerk’s office who actually take the marriage application would have to be named individually as a defendant, the plaintiffs argue.   

“Under Defendant’s theory, if the entity is not included as a defendant in the suit, the citizens of the state are just stuck with unconstitutional policy, and the Governor is powerless to intervene,” the plaintiffs’ assert. “There is no need for such complicated musings, because there is one entity, one person, who has the authority to direct change in all of these avenues. That person is the Governor.”

Love v. Pence, 4:14-cv-00015, is one of five lawsuits seeking to have Indiana’s statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman declared unconstitutional. All the cases are being argued before Chief Judge Richard Young.

 

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