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Same-sex couples tell 7th Circuit Indiana’s marriage ban is discriminatory

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Plaintiffs challenging Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage filed their appellate brief with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals July 29, making their argument that the state’s marriage law violates their constitutional rights.

As ordered by the court, the plaintiffs from the three separate lawsuits that overturned Indiana’s marriage statute in the District Court worked together and filed one brief. They asserted prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying violates the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

The brief states that Indiana’s marriage ban “deprives same-sex couples of equal dignity and autonomy in the most intimate sphere of their lives and brands them as inferior to other married couples in Indiana, denying them state and federal protections, responsibilities, and benefits, and inviting ongoing discrimination from third parties.

“This deprivation violates due process by infringing upon the fundamental right to marry, and it violates equal protection by treating same-sex and different-sex couples differently for no reason other than to impose second-class citizenship on a targeted group.”

The brief was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs in Marilyn Rae Baskin, et al. v. Greg Zoeller, et al., the suit brought by the national gay rights organization Lambda Legal; Midori Fujii, et al. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Revenue, et al., filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; and Pamela Lee, et al. v. Brian Abbott, et al., brought by a legal team led by William Groth of Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe LLP.

National organizations and individuals supporting freedom to marry are expected to file amicus briefs in the coming days.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has already filed its brief with the 7th Circuit.

Plaintiffs argued against the Indiana’s contention that states have the authority to define and regulate marriage. Describing the states’ rights argument as a “sleight-of-hand,” the plaintiffs maintained state laws cannot contravene constitutional rights.

Also, same-sex couples scoffed at the state’s procreation argument.

“While the State argues that marriage is a mere ‘regulation’ and ‘a means of enticing individuals whose sexual intercourse may produce children to enter voluntarily into a relationship that the government recognizes and regulates,’ this narrow definition cannot be reconciled with the autonomy protected by the State for those who choose to marry,” plaintiffs stated in their brief. “Married couples may have children, but they need not and often do not. Spouses need not pass a fertility test, intend to procreate, be of childbearing age, have any parenting skills, or account for any history of childbearing or support.”

Last week, the 7th Circuit set Aug. 26 as the date it will hear oral arguments for the case challenging Indiana’s marriage law and for the lawsuit against Wisconsin’s marriage ban.

Marilyn Rae Baskin, lead plaintiff in the Lambda Legal lawsuit, said the lawsuit has been a rollercoaster ride. She is impatient for a final decision and, describing supporters of same-sex marriage as being on the right side of history, said she is confused why Indiana is continuing to fight against same-sex marriage.

“Fill the potholes,” she admonished the state. “Take care of the budget, solve crime, work on education. This should be a non-issue. It’s discriminatory and that’s its only reason for existence.”




 

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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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