Indiana residents Linda Bruner and Lori Roberts made history Nov. 10 by becoming the first same-sex couple in the state to legally divorce.
Marion Superior Court Judge Robert Altice signed the decree of dissolution this morning. Bruner’s attorney, Jane Glynn of Wanzer Edwards P.C., described the moment as anti-climatic considering the battle waged this year to get same-sex marriage legalized in Indiana.
Still, Glynn said her client is thrilled. The divorce decree gives Bruner closure and the ability to move forward with her life.
The divorce comes less than a week after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals went against the trend and ruled states do have the right to ban same-sex marriage. This 2-1 decision upholding the bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee creates the split among the Circuit courts which could entice the Supreme Court of the United States to revisit same-sex marriage this term.
Prior to the 6th Circuit’s ruling, the 4th, 7th , 9th and 10th circuits had all found state laws that prohibited marriage between gays or lesbians violated the U.S. Constitution.
Bruner and Roberts married in 2010 in Iowa, but on Jan. 31, 2013, Bruner filed a dissolution petition in Marion Superior Court.
The pair did not expect the court to grant the petition, so they tried to reach a settlement agreement. However, Bruner and Roberts were unable to find common ground. At a status conference in June 2014, Altice dismissed the petition on the grounds that the court did not have jurisdiction to grant the dissolution because, at that time, Indiana did not recognized their marriage.
Attorney Richard Mann joined the case and filed a motion to correct error, then filed an appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals. He also added Bruner to his federal challenge to Indiana’s marriage statute, Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence et al.
After the U.S. Supreme Court did not pick up any of the marriage appeals from the Circuit courts, the state Court of Appeals remanded Bruner’s divorce petition to the trial court for a hearing.
This time, Bruner and Roberts were able to reach an agreement. Glynn walked the paperwork over to the Indianapolis City-County Building this morning and waited while Altice signed the decree.
Looking at what the U.S. Supreme Court might do now, Glynn echoed other attorneys in questioning whether the justices would find that states do have the right to define marriage and therefore reverse the movement in favor of same-sex marriage. Such a ruling would impact thousands of couples, Glynn said, and possibly could make Burner’s divorce invalid.
If the court does not accept an appeal from the 6th Circuit, this will leave in place the current patchwork of laws, Glynn said. Gay or lesbians couples who were married in Indiana would not have their unions recognized when they crossed state lines into Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.