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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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