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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. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

      2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

      3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

      4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

      5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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