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Same-sex couple’s bid for recognition expedited due to grave illness

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The chief federal judge in Indianapolis quickly summoned lawyers to address a same-sex couple’s emergency request that Indiana recognize their Massachusetts marriage because one of the women is gravely ill.

Nikole Rai Quasney and Amy Melissa Sandler of Munster on Monday asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would enjoin the state from enforcing laws against same-sex marriage. The couple requested an expedited hearing because Quasney, mother of two young children, has stage IV ovarian cancer.

“Because of this aggressive cancer, Niki measures the rest of her life in weeks, not years,” a brief in support of the request says.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana on Tuesday summoned attorneys for a telephone conference set for 2 p.m. Friday. Young advised them to be prepared to address the request for an injunction and temporary restraining order.

Quasney and Sandler also seek a court order that, in the event of Quasney’s death, the Indiana Department of Health be required to complete a death certificate listing her as married, with Sandler recorded as the surviving spouse.

Continued enforcement of the ban, the supporting brief argues, “will cause grave harm to a loving couple confronted with an impending tragic loss. The public simply has no interest in denying Amy the rights she is entitled to as a surviving spouse upon Niki’s death.”

The couple is one three who sued the state March 10 backed by the national organization Lambda Legal. The case is Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., 1:14-cv-00355, and names as defendants the clerks of Boone, Porter and Lake counties, along with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Zoeller has vowed to defend Indiana’s prohibition on same-sex marriage in at least four cases to date, including Baskin, that seek to overturn Indiana’s ban in federal court.

Young presides in all the cases. He has also set a phone conference on Friday for scheduling purposes in the related matters.






 

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