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Same-sex marriage memo keeps Pence as defendant in lawsuit

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A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but says the ruling doesn’t take effect until the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the issue.

Chief Judge Richard Young in the Southern District of Indiana held in Bowling, et al. v. Pence, et al., 1:14-CV-00405, that the state must recognize the marriage of Michelle and Shannon Bowling of Indianapolis, who were married in Polk County, Iowa, on Jan. 18, 2011. Shannon Bowling is employed by the Indiana Department of Correction, and the couple sued to seek state benefits for Michelle Bowling and her children from a previous relationship.

A third plaintiff, Linda Bruner of Greenfield, is seeking a divorce from her wife, whom she married in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 20, 2010. But a court in Indianapolis has said it has no authority to dissolve same-sex marriages, the ruling said. Young’s decision says she can seek the dissolution if the 7th Circuit upholds his ruling.

The judge reiterated his finding in the other same-sex marriage challenges by ruling Indiana’s marriage law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Bowling is the last same-sex marriage case on the District Court’s docket.

While Young'sruling that the state’s marriage statute is unconstitutional echoes his earlier rulings in the three cases now before the 7th Circuit, Young’s decision to allow Gov. Mike Pence to be included as a defendant is new.

In the three cases Young previously ruled on, he dismissed Pence as a defendant and threw out the first same-sex marriage case filed, Love v. Pence, because the governor was the sole defendant. At that time, the judge agreed with the state that the governor could not be a party to the challenge because he did not enforce the laws.

However, Young pointed out that since his June ruling in Baskin, et al.  v. Bogan, et al., Pence exercised authority he said he did not have when he issued a memo that directed executive branch agencies to function as though the marriage law had not been ruled unconstitutional. The governor sent the memo July 7, after the 7th Circuit had granted a stay in Baskin.  

“Additionally, the court, after witnessing the Governor do what he claimed he could not do, reverses course and finds him to be a proper party to such lawsuits,” Young wrote. “The court wishes to reiterate that it finds the Governor’s prior representations contradicting such authority to be, at a minimum, troubling.”

The 7th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments next week on the state’s appeal of the June 25 ruling by Young throwing out Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban. Hundreds of same-sex couples were married legally in Indiana after the ruling and before the 7th Circuit issued a stay.

“The phenomenon that the court previously observed has continued to grow. Since issuing its prior orders, two circuit courts have found bans similar to Indiana’s to be unconstitutional. This court reaffirms that conclusion,” Young wrote in his ruling.

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General had sought a stay in the Bowling case and plans to file an appeal, spokesman Bryan Corbin said.

“As the lawyer for the state government, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has a duty to defend Indiana’s statute – passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature – from lawsuits that plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal.”

The attorney general’s office did not address Young’s ruling that Pence could be a named defendant.
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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