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Challenges to Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban piling up in federal court

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Update: This story has been edited to add the fourth lawsuit filed Friday.

 

And then there were four.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Friday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the third such complaint lodged against Indiana in a week. Another suit challening the ban was also filed in federal court Friday.

The wave of lawsuits began March 7 when four couples in southern Indiana, represented by the legal team in Louisville who successfully challenged Kentucky’s marriage statute, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. This was followed by the national organization Lambda Legal filing a complaint March 10 in the Southern District on behalf of three Indiana couples.

The ACLU filed its suit on behalf of 14 couples, including two children who have faced discrimination because Indiana does not permit or recognize same-sex marriage. Midori Fujii, whose wife of 11 years died after a two-year battle with ovarian cancer, is the lead plaintiff. Because their California marriage was not recognized in Indiana, Fujii was not allowed by the funeral home to make decisions for her wife’s funeral and had to pay more than $300,000 in state inheritance taxes on property her wife left.

“Marriage has long played a fundamental role in our society,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Kenneth J. Falk. “By failing to allow or recognize marriages for same-sex couples in Indiana, the state is perpetuating a discriminatory practice that cannot be squared with the Constitution.”

The ACLU suit argues Indiana Code 31-11-1-1 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The suit seeks to stop the state from enforcing this law and to allow same-sex couples to wed in Indiana as well as recognize same-sex marriages that have been performed in other states.

Also Friday, Richard A. Mann P.C. in Indianapolis filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Michelle and Shannon Bowling and Linda Bruner challening the state's Defense of Marriage Act. The Bowlings, who were married in Iowa, reside and work in Indianapolis, have been denied state recognition of their lawful marriage. Linda Bruner, who was lawfully married in Iowa is also seeking recognition of her marriage here as she is seeking to obtain a divorce from her wife and has had a divorce pending since January 2013.

The ACLU challenge, Midori Fujii, et al. v. Indiana Governor, et al., 1:14-CV-00404; Michelle Bowling, Shannon Bowling and Linda Bruner v. Michael Pence, et al., 1:14-CV-0405; and the case filed a week ago by the Louisville team, Love v. Pence, 4:14-CV-00015, name Gov. Mike Pence as the defendant.

However, the Lambda suit, Baskin v. Bogan, 1:14-CV-0355, names the clerks of Boone, Porter and Lake counties along with Indiana Attorney Greg Zoeller as defendants.

In response to the first two lawsuits, Zoeller has vowed to defend Indiana’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

“When plaintiffs who disagree with an Indiana statute file a challenge in court, I have a duty as Indiana’s Attorney General to defend our state and the statute the Legislature passed to the best of my skill and ability – and will here, both now and on any appeal,” Zoeller said.

Indiana has not filed an answer to any of the suits filed, but Zoeller has submitted amicus briefs in support of marriage laws in other District courts. Indiana is the lead author in a multistate amicus brief filed in the 10th Circuit in the combined case of Kitchen v. Herbert (from Utah) and Bishop v. Smith (from Oklahoma).

The 10th Circuit panel is scheduled to hear arguments in the Utah appeal April 10. This will be the first appeal to a federal court’s ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional and could become the first federal court of appeals decision on the topic since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on United States v. Windsor.

Besides Kentucky, Utah, and Oklahoma, same-sex marriage prohibitions have been knocked down by the federal courts in Virginia, Ohio and Texas. Also, seven couples in Arizona, represented by Lambda Legal, filed suit March 13 in federal court, challenging that state’s marriage law.

The trio of lawsuits come just weeks after proponents of same-sex marriage suffered a setback when the marriage amendment to the state Constitution, HJR 3, failed to gain enough support among Indiana lawmakers to appear on the 2014 November ballot. Legislators altered the wording of HJR 3 to remove the ban on civil unions which essentially put the amendment process back to the beginning.

“Even though we have temporarily avoided a state constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples, we cannot stand by idly while the Constitution’s guarantees of fairness and equality are denied to so many loving couples,” said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director.

 
 
 

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  • Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
    ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
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    Attention subjects: "democracy" no longer a factor in the subject matter henceforth designated "gay rights." So ordered.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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