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Judge grants temporary restraining order in same-sex marriage suit

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A same-sex couple’s plea that Indiana recognize their marriage was granted Thursday by a federal judge in Evansville, a significant ruling in one of the five separate lawsuits that are challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana Chief Judge Richard Young issued a temporary restraining order, instructing the Indiana State Department of Health on how it should issue a death certificate in the future regarding the same-sex couple Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler.

The order is in effect until May 8. Before that date, a preliminary injunction hearing will be scheduled to hear arguments on the plaintiffs’ request to extend the order indefinitely.

Lambda Legal, a national organization, had filed a motion March 31 for emergency relief on behalf of Quasney, who has stage IV ovarian cancer; her wife, Sandler; and their two young children. The couple asked the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting Indiana from enforcing the state’s marriage ban as it applies to them.

Quasney and Sandler have a civil union in Illinois and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2013. They fear if Quasney dies without Indiana recognizing their marriage, she will not be allowed to have Sandler by her side at the hospital and Sandler will not be eligible for surviving spousal benefits.

Lambda Legal, which advocates for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV, heralded the ruling as a victory.

“We’re greatly relieved for Amy, Niki and their two young children,” said Paul Castillo, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “They are a loving family coping with a terminal illness. The State of Indiana has no justification for denying them dignity, legitimacy and respect as a family during this inexpressibly difficult time.”

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office emphasized the limited scope of Young’s ruling, applying only to Quasney and Sandler. It does not apply to the other plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Quasney and Sandler are plaintiffs in the suit Baskin v. Bogan, 1:14-CV-355, which was filed by Lambda Legal March 10.

Solicitor General Thomas Fisher of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office argued Thursday that under current law, the state’s marriage statute does not allow for hardships exceptions. He maintained the relief the plaintiffs are seeking should not be granted.  

“We are so relieved. We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other,” Quasney said.
 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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