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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. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  2. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  3. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

  4. Well, I agree with you that the people need to wake up and see what our judges and politicians have done to our rights and freedoms. This DNA loophole in the statute of limitations is clearly unconstitutional. Why should dna evidence be treated different than video tape evidence for example. So if you commit a crime and they catch you on tape or if you confess or leave prints behind: they only have five years to bring their case. However, if dna identifies someone they can still bring a case even fifty-years later. where is the common sense and reason. Members of congress are corrupt fools. They should all be kicked out of office and replaced by people who respect the constitution.

  5. If the AG could pick and choose which state statutes he defended from Constitutional challenge, wouldn't that make him more powerful than the Guv and General Assembly? In other words, the AG should have no choice in defending laws. He should defend all of them. If its a bad law, blame the General Assembly who presumably passed it with a majority (not the government lawyer). Also, why has there been no write up on the actual legislators who passed the law defining marriage? For all the fuss Democrats have made, it would be interesting to know if some Democrats voted in favor of it (or if some Republican's voted against it). Have a nice day.

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