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Some Indiana clerks refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses

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A federal judge’s ruling declaring Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional doesn’t trump a clerk’s religious convictions in one county. Elsewhere, county clerks are being instructed that it’s up to them whether they issue licenses to gay couples.

“Personally for me, I feel like our country was founded on the biblical principle of marriage between one man and one woman and I’m going to stand on that principle until I’m ordered otherwise,” Daviess County Clerk Sherri Healy said Thursday morning.  

Healy said at least a half-dozen people in same-sex relationships had called the courthouse in Washington inquiring about obtaining a license.

Young’s order Wednesday enjoined clerks in counties named in four lawsuits – Boone, Hamilton, Lake and Porter – from enforcing Indiana’s statute barring same-sex marriage.

It also forbid enforcement of laws that criminalize same-sex couples who fill out marriage license applications where spaces provide only for male and female applicants.

Before filing a motion to stay Young’s ruling late Wednesday, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office provided a letter of guidance to county clerks that said clerks in the named counties would be subject to contempt of court if they failed to issue licenses.

“Other county clerks are not under the direct jurisdiction of the court order but as an officer of the court, we me must encourage everyone to show respect for the judge and the orders that are issued,” the AG’s office advised.

Healy said the letter revealed a “gray area” that didn’t require issuance of licenses.

Daviess Circuit Judge Gregory Smith said he respected Healy’s decision, and that a letter from Zoeller “was really of no benefit.”

Clerks in counties such as Elkhart, Knox and Tippecanoe initially delayed issuing licenses after Young’s ruling Wednesday, but reported Thursday that they had begun to do so after receiving the AG’s letter.

Daviess County in southwestern Indiana isn’t alone in opting to continue to deny licenses for same-sex couples.

Cass County Clerk Beth Liming said despite several calls to the courthouse in Logansport, she opted not to issue licenses after consulting with county attorney John Hillis.

“I think we’re being advised by our county attorneys what to do, and that’s what we’re being told,” Liming said.

Hillis said Thursday, “If the clerk does not issue a marriage license, that's not a violation of Indiana law,” except in the four counties named in Young’s order.

Hillis said Zoeller’s request that other clerks around that state respect Young’s order was “pretty subjective,” and left the decision on whether to issue licenses up to each clerk.

“I don’t think it’s mandatory” that clerks grant licenses to same-sex couples under Young’s ruling, Hillis said. On the other hand, if Liming chose to issue licenses, Hillis said, “I think that’s fine. … She has a right to do that.

“Is that disrespectful of a judge? I don’t think so,” he said.

In issuing guidance to clerks, Zoeller’s office said it was doing so “to avoid the chaos that has ensued in other states when rulings such as today’s have been issued.”

Asked whether any additional direction may be coming from the AG’s office, spokesman Bryan Corbin said in an email, “We will notify county clerks (and the news media) when we are notified of any ruling from the U.S. District Court on the State’s motion for stay.”





 




 

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  • name calling
    Smith, you thought provoker, complacency shaker, wabble wouser. Not wishing you a happy fourth, Mr Blackstone. Or is it More?
  • Christus Regnat
    Maybe it is time for conservatives to pack it in and realize that the Framers themselves were in several obvious cases irreligious, in other instances simply ardent capitalists; and the union between secularism and greed that marked the birth of the Union, and the materialism that in one guise or another, has haunted it ever since, dooms the liberal experiment to failure, if we take the Platonic view of the role of the State. Of course, I doubt the Framers took the Platonic view, or they wouldn't have initiate the war of independence in the first place. Maybe it's time for American conservatives to just get up and repudiate the whole US Constitution and say it was a big mistake and we should have stayed under the Crown. Of course England is no better than we are now but maybe history would have turned out differently if the wild eyed revolutionary advocates of extreme anti-social individualism like Thomas Paine had not won out. Just speculating here. Cue the chorus of denunciations: "bigot, hater, Neanderthal, theocrat, etc."
  • Ideologies in conflict
    John Adams was concerned that our system of goverment could fail under present circumstances ... as it is about to do when the State orders these clerks to violate their consciences or be terminated: " Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
    • BRAVO
      Hold the line clerks. Hold the line.

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      1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

      2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

      3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

      4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

      5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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