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1 same-sex marriage lawsuit remains in District Court

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One challenge to Indiana’s same-sex marriage law remains in federal court and could, again, open a window for gay and lesbian couples in the state to get married, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case said.

The lawsuit, Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0405, was not included with the three other cases that Richard Young, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, consolidated in his June 25 ruling overturning Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Richard Mann, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the Bowling case was moving more slowly than the other lawsuits because Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office requested two extensions to file briefs. The plaintiffs have filed a response but have also argued the attorney general’s motion for summary judgment was filed after the deadline so the court should not consider it.

Mann contends that if Young finds Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional and does not immediately issue a stay, same-sex marriage would become legal again in the state. However, Mann noted none of his clients are asking to be married but, rather, to have their out-of-state marriages recognized by Indiana. Therefore, the judge could write a narrow ruling that would only address the issue of recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

On July 14, the attorney general filed a request for a stay of any decision the federal court makes in the Bowling case. The state maintained such action is warranted because of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the District Court’s ruling in the other three same-sex marriage lawsuits.

Robert Katz, professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, would be surprised if Young issues an order and does not immediately grant the stay, especially since the 7th Circuit stopped the enforcement of his previous same-sex marriage ruling.  

Young risks squandering his prestige and reputation if he does not stay his decision in Bowling, Katz said.  

“There’re only so many times you can make a great bold gesture,” Katz said. “He did it, and he did it in a big way.”     

Katz is also a member of the legal team on Lee et al. v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0406.

Like the other lawsuits filed this year against Indiana’s marriage law, the Bowling complaint argues the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

The case then raises the following additional arguments that the ban violates:

•    the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment  (the primary purpose of the marriage statute is to further the religious beliefs of the state which fosters an excessive government entanglement in religion);
•    the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution (by not recognizing the plaintiff’s out-of-state marriage, Indiana law is causing uncertainty, unpredictability and non-uniformity which the Full Faith and Credit Clause protects against);
•    the right to travel which has been afforded constitutional protection (Indiana’s refusal to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state places an unreasonable burden on the couples who are then forced to decide to continue living in Indiana or relocate).

In their motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs strongly asserted Gov. Mike Pence is a proper defendant. Young dismissed the first same-sex marriage lawsuit filed this year, Love et al. v. Pence, 4:14-cv-00015, agreeing with the state that the governor did not cause the injuries and has no ability to offer a resolution.

The Bowling parties claim the governor should be a defendant because he does have the power to redress the injuries. Specifically, Pence has the authority over two of the other defendants in the case – the Indiana revenue and state personnel departments – and can order them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Separately, Mann filed an appeal July 14 with the Indiana Court of Appeals on behalf of Linda Bruner, one of the plaintiffs in the federal suit. Bruner is seeking a divorce from her wife and had filed in state court but was denied.

In the Court of Appeals filing, Bruner v. Roberts, 49A05-1407-DR-316, Mann makes the argument that Indiana’s marriage law is unconstitutional.

 
 

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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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