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Suit claims marriage statute unconstitutional

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A secular group and three of its members are suing the Marion County prosecutor and clerk, claiming an Indiana statute is unconstitutional because it says that religions are the only groups with rights to have their beliefs recognized in marriage ceremonies.

The ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of The Center for Inquiry; its executive director of the Indiana branch, Reba Boyd Wooden; and two members of the Indiana branch who want to marry in Indiana. The Center for Inquiry – Indiana wants to be able to have its secular celebrants perform weddings but claims no members of the organization are allowed to solemnize marriages under Indiana Code 31-11-6-1.

John Kiel and Michelle Landrum, who recently moved to Kentucky, belong to the Center for Inquiry – Indiana and want to have their wedding conducted by a secular celebrant from the Center for Inquiry. They plan on marrying in Marion County, and they claim that Wooden, whom they want to perform the ceremony, can’t legally solemnize the marriage.

The statute lists what groups can solemnize marriages, including judges, mayors, clerks and a member of specified religious organizations.

According to the suit, someone who attempts to solemnize a marriage who is not authorized to do so commits a Class B misdemeanor.

The suit seeks to allow Boyd to perform the ceremony and prevent the Marion County prosecutor from prosecuting any Center for Inquiry secular celebrant who solemnizes an Indiana marriage.

“This case is more than just an issue of fairness," said ACLU of Indiana Interim Executive Director Frank Young. "It's about respecting the rights of all who value marriage in Indiana. All who wish to have their marriage commitments solemnized should be able to do so in accordance with their beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or not."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller will defend the Marion County prosecutor and Marion Circuit Court clerk since a state statute is being challenged and the prosecutor’s office is involved in the civil suit.

“My office will defend the authority of the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature to determine who may solemnize legal marriages in this state. This statute was first enacted in 1997 and amended in 1999, and this constitutional challenge is a test of the authority of the state. My office will seek to defend this statute from the legal challenge as we have defended the Voter ID law, the Choice Scholarships law and other statutes that have been challenged by private plaintiffs,” Zoeller said.

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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