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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. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

  2. The Indiana DOE released the 2015-2016 school grades in Dec 2016 and my local elementary school is a "C" grade school. Look at the MCCSC boundary maps and how all of the most affluent neighborhoods have the best performance. It is no surprise that obtaining residency in the "A" school boundaries cost 1.5 to 3 times as much. As a parent I should have more options than my "C" school without needing to pay the premium to live in the affluent parts of town. If the charter were authorized by a non-religious school the plaintiffs would still be against it because it would still be taking per-pupil money from them. They are hiding behind the guise of religion as a basis for their argument when this is clearly all about money and nothing else.

  3. This is a horrible headline. The article is about challenging the ability of Grace College to serve as an authorizer. 7 Oaks is not a religiously affiliated school

  4. Congratulations to Judge Carmichael for making it to the final three! She is an outstanding Judge and the people of Indiana will benefit tremendously if/when she is chosen.

  5. The headline change to from "religious" to "religious-affiliated" is still inaccurate and terribly misleading.

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