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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. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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