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Motions in marriage lawsuits attack non-recognition of same-sex unions

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Claiming they have a fundamental right to marry, same-sex couples married outside of Indiana have filed separate motions asking the court to grant summary judgment in favor of their challenges to Indiana’s marriage law.

Plaintiffs in two lawsuits – Lee et al. v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-00404 and Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0405 – argue Indiana’s non-recognition of their marriages legally solemnized in other states is a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment. Also, the non-recognition prevents the couples from accessing tangible benefits and causes harm to their dignity.

“The right to have one’s marriage recognized by state authorities is inherent in the right to marry, without the right of recognition, the right to marry is meaningless,” the plaintiffs asserted in the Lee lawsuit. “The right to marry, of course, is a fundamental right which is deeply entrenched in American jurisprudence, and which necessarily entails the right to remain married and have one’s marriage recognized.”

The motions were filed April 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

Plaintiffs in Bowling also make the charge that Indiana’s marriage law violates the Establishment Clause because it advances religion. The couples claim the state’s argument against same-sex marriage is a “sham secular purpose” that attempts to hide the real purpose of furthering certain Judeo-Christian interpretations of the Bible.  

“Allowing the Defendants and the State of Indiana to continue to define marriage based on these religious interpretations has the primary effect of advancing specific religious beliefs,” the plaintiffs wrote. “By enforcing a religious-based definition of marriage, the Defendants are no longer neutral, which the Constitution requires. Defendants’ enforcement of Indiana’s DOMA shows government approval to a specific set of religious beliefs, which has the effect of sending a message to those who do not share those religious beliefs that their viewpoints are not as valuable as the religious beliefs approved by the majority.”

In addition, the Lee plaintiffs, who are all first responders, filed a motion for preliminary injunction. They are asking the court to preliminarily enjoin the state from refusing to recognize their lawfully wedded spouses as beneficiaries on their pension funds.
 

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