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Same-sex couple facing terminal illness files emergency motion with 7th Circuit

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The couple who won an initial battle to have their same-sex marriage recognized – a case that foreshadowed the overturning of Indiana’s marriage law last week – is now fighting the emergency stay granted June 27 by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights organization, has filed an emergency motion with the 7th Circuit to keep in place an earlier order that recognized the marriage of Indiana residents Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler. This couple turned to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana for an emergency order in April because Quasney is terminally ill and wanted to be able to list Sandler as her spouse on a future death certificate.

The 7th Circuit’s order issued late last week, staying the June 25 ruling by the U.S. District Court that found Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, included preventing the state from recognizing Quasney and Sandler’s Massachusetts marriage.

Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, is asking Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to not oppose this motion.

“This is one family in all of Indiana that is undergoing tremendous stress while they courageously fight Ms. Quasney’s stage four ovarian cancer,” Taylor said in a press release. “Their marriage doesn’t harm anyone in Indiana, it simply protects them and their children.”

Lamba Legal filed Baskin v. Bogan, 1:140-cv-0355 in March which was one of five challenges to Indiana’ ban on same-sex marriage. The organization later filed a motion seeking immediate relief for Quasney, Sandler and their two children because of Quasney’s serious health situation.

The state filed a motion to stay the recognition of Quasney and Sandler’s marriage, but Young never issued a ruling.

Meanwhile, other same-sex couples are wondering about the current status of their marriages. After Young struck down Indiana’s marriage law June 25, many gays and lesbians raced to their county clerks’ offices to get married, but the stay issued by the 7th Circuit has put those marriages in legal limbo.

“Our position is these are valid marriages,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. “It would be unprecedented for the state to take the position that even though these marriages were valid at the time they were entered into, they are no longer valid.”

Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal attorney, echoed Falk in saying the marriages performed during the window between Young’s decision and the 7th Circuit stay were still valid.

However, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office said the question of validity has not been determined and might have to be decided by a court at a later time.

Castillo said the validity question has been answered in federal court. After a stay was granted in the ruling that found Utah’s marriage law violated the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah ruled in the separate case of Evans v. Utah that vows exchanged during the window in the beehive state were still valid.

Utah has filed a motion to stay that decision.

Despite questions at the state level, Indiana same-sex couples who were married after Young’s decision may get recognition from the federal government. Castillo pointed out when a marriage law has been overturned in other states, the U.S. government has considered those marriages as valid even while a stay is in place.  

 

 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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