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.”




  • 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. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

      2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

      3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

      4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

      5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.