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Court rules Indiana must recognize couple’s same-sex marriage

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Indiana must recognize the same-sex marriage of two women wed in Massachusetts, one of whom is gravely ill, a federal judge ruled Thursday. The state said it will appeal the narrow but historic ruling.

Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler are the first same-sex couple granted legal recognition by the state of Indiana under the order issued by Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana.

“The court finds that the Plaintiffs, Amy, Niki, (and children) A.Q-S., and M.Q.-S., have satisfied their burden for a preliminary injunction. They have shown a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits, irreparable harm with no adequate remedy at law, that the public interest is in favor of the relief, and the balance of harm weighs in their favor,” Young wrote.

“Therefore, the court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. … Defendants and all those acting in concert are enjoined from enforcing Indiana statute § 31-11-1-1(b) against recognition of Plaintiffs’, Niki Quasney’s and Amy Sandler’s, valid out-of-state marriage; the State of Indiana must recognize their marriage,” the order states.

The opinion also orders the Indiana Department of Health to record Quasney as married and Sandler as surviving spouse on a death certificate if Quasney dies in Indiana. Quasney has been diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer, according to the record.  

“We are relieved and happy to send our congratulations and best wishes to Amy, Niki and their family. We applaud their courage and commitment to each other and to equality as they fight Niki’s illness,” said Paul Castillo, staff attorney for Lambda Legal, which represents the couple.

“While this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the state’s discriminatory marriage ban. Our work in Indiana is not done.  All same-sex couples in Indiana need the security only marriage provides,” Castillo said in a statement.

Quasney and Sandler previously won a temporary restraining order that would have expired Friday. Young concluded his 14-page opinion by stressing its narrowness but also acknowledging the growing recognition of same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court of the United States opinion last year in United States v. Windsor, 134 S.Ct. 2675 (2013).

“(T)he court recognizes that the issues with which it is confronted are highly contentious and provoke strong emotions both in favor and against same-sex marriages. The court’s ruling today is not a final resolution of the merits of the case – it is a preliminary look, or in other words, a best guess by the court as to what the outcome will be,” Young wrote.

“Currently, all federal district court cases decided post-Windsor indicate that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail. Nevertheless, the strength or weakness of Plaintiffs’ case at the time of final dissolution will inevitably be impacted as more courts are presented with this issue,” he wrote.

The state will appeal Thursday’s ruling, according to a statement from the office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

“The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is notifying county clerks that the federal court’s decision today is limited and applies to one couple in this case only,” spokesman Bryan Corbin said. “County clerks still are prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana.”

The state argues Indiana’s statute defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman is constitutional and should remain intact.

“The state’s legal defense of the statute notes that the Legislature has the legal authority to determine how marriage shall be defined within Indiana’s borders; and Indiana’s Legislature has chosen in statute to define marriage in the traditional way – between one man and one woman – and to not legally recognize same-sex unions granted in other states,” Corbin said. Windsor, he said, “continues to leave this state policy decision-making authority with states and their legislatures. The judge has the motions under advisement and will rule later.”  

Likewise, plaintiffs in this case have moved for summary judgment.

This case, Baskin, et al. v. Bogan, et al., 1:14-CV-00355, is one of several federal lawsuits challenging Indiana’s marriage statute. The suits were filed this year after the Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 3, a proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

In the statement provided by Lambda Legal, Quasney said she and her wife were relieved. “We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other. Our time together and with our daughters is the most important thing in the world to me. I look forward to the day when all couples in Indiana have the freedom to marry,” Quasney said.
 

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  • Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right
    This is a good thing. To point out how un-Constitutional state gun laws vary from state to state only proves that the laws need to be changed so that they are the same across the board, gun laws and marriage rights included. This is America after all, and people should not be restricted on their freedoms as long as it's not hurting anyone else. And, the last i checked, who someone else is married to does not hurt me or anyone else. People should have the freedom to decide for themselves what is best for them without someone else's interference.
  • Sad Day
    These couples moved here to our state either without research our laws, not caring about our laws or expecting us to change for them. While I sympathize with their medical issues and shortened time frame, I find it very sad that we have to put our laws out to pasture in order to appease them. Other states don't seem to recognize other issues where they disagree with another state, say for example, New York not recognizing gun ownership laws or concealed carry permits from other states and will jail you on the spot for the first infraction, yet the second amendment allows personal gun ownership. It seems like Judge Young just rolled over on this ruling and the citizens of the state are left to pick up the pieces of our values.

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    1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

    2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

    3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

    4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

    5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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