A federal judge has struck down Indiana's ban on gay marriage, calling it unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled Wednesday that the state's ban violates the U.S. Constitution's equal-protection clause in a mixed ruling involving lawsuits from several gay couples.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the ruling means same-sex marriages can begin in the state.
The Indiana attorney general's office says it will appeal.
Federal courts across the country have struck down gay marriage bans recently, but many of those rulings are on hold pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides of the issue expect the matter to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court.
It also wasn't immediately clear what impact Wednesday's ruling might have on a faltering movement to add a gay marriage ban into the Indiana Constitution.
Same-sex Kentucky couples are heading to the commonwealth's only contiguous state that allows same sex marriage to make their unions legal.
Illinois began issuing marriage licenses for the first time officially on June 1.
Massac County Clerk John Taylor says the office has been busy, issuing at least 20 licenses in May, ahead of the state deadline, most of which he says came from out of state.
“It’s busy because we’re getting a lot of questions, a lot of phone calls," said Taylor. "We have issued a bunch about 14 or 15 marriages and we already issued six yesterday, from Tennessee, Kentucky, we’ve had some from Florida.”
Taylor said the office issued six this morning, including Kentuckians Hunter Fawks and Seth Stewart who drove over six hours from Ashland to pick up their licenses.
Indiana Republicans will vote next month on a provision in their party’s platform that would reintroduce language about “traditional marriage.”
The Indiana GOP eliminated the language regarding traditional marriage in 2012. But party delegates last week decided to reintroduce the issue to the party platform. Republican delegates next month will vote on whether to add the following language to their platform: “We believe that strong families, based on marriage between a man and a woman, are the foundation of society.”
Not all Hoosier State Republicans back the effort to reintroduce marriage language into the party’s platform. The Indianapolis Star-Tribune quotes GOP delegate Megan Robertson—who is gay—as saying the effort is “bad for the Republican Party.”
While the proposed platform also contains language that recognizes “diverse” family structures, Robertson says the platform should focus on issues that unite the party, as opposed to dividing it.
Those backing the platform say it contains recognition of “blended families, grandparents, guardians, and loving adults” who raise children.
A federal judge has ordered Kentucky to pay $70,000 in attorney's fees to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that resulted in the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II on Wednesday immediately put the order on hold, though, pending the result of an appeal of his ruling in the case.
Heyburn concluded that the lawsuit brought by two couples who were married in other states or countries over the past 10 years and sought to force Kentucky to recognize their unions was novel and difficult. Heyburn ruled that the plaintiffs' attorneys showed "considerable skill" in winning the case and the fees requested were reasonable.
Heyburn's decision to recognize out-of-state marriages is on hold until the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the case.
The legal counsel hired by Gov. Steve Beshear argues out-of-state gay marriages should not be recognized, because doing so does not promote natural procreation between a man and a woman and therefore threatens Kentucky's economic stability.
The legal brief was filed as the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling from February, striking down part of Kentucky’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign says the “procreation” argument is one that was used a generation ago.
“It’s an embarrassing and ludicrous regurgitation of some really archaic talking points," said Hartman. "It’s shocking that the governor would allow the legal team to use them.”
Judge John Heyburn’s ruling earlier this year declared Kentucky’s gay marriage ban violated the equal protection clause. The brief filed by Beshear’s legal team argues that because same-sex partners can’t naturally procreate, they aren’t entitled to equal treatment under the state’s marriage laws.
Indiana must recognize a gay couple’s out-of-state marriage for at least a few days more as a federal judge considers whether to extend an April order requiring the state to acknowledge the union.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young heard arguments Friday in Evansville on a request that the state recognize the 2013 Massachusetts marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler of Munster. Quasney is terminally ill with advanced ovarian cancer, and the couple fears Sandler’s ability to collect Social Security and other death benefits would be harmed if their marriage isn’t recognized.
Young granted the couple a temporary restraining order last month, but it is set to expire Thursday.
Attorneys for the state say there are other legal ways for Sandler to obtain property benefits after Quasney dies.
Indiana law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The state does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions conducted in other states.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a $100,000 contract with a private law firm from Ashland to represent him in appealing a judge's decision allowing state recognition of same-sex marriages.
Beshear announced Thursday that the state reached the deal with the firm of VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann. The 11-member practice also has an office in Frankfort.
The attorneys will handle Beshear's appeal of a decision to overturn parts of a 2004 state constitutional amendment that barred recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.
Unless a federal appeals court steps in and halts the ruling, the state will have to start allowing same-sex couples to change their names on official identifications and documents and obtain any other benefits of a married couple in Kentucky on March 20.
Gov. Steve Beshear says his appeal of a judge's order to recognize same-sex marriages is meant to clarify the law. Beshear acknowledges that marriage equality supporters are disappointed with his decision to mount an appeal, even though Attorney General Jack Conway has opted not to.
Beshear says the appeal is needed to get the matter settled as quickly as possible and without Conway on the case, Beshear has sent out a request for proposals for attorneys to handle the state’s appeal.
While he refuses to state his personal opinion on gay marriage, Beshear contends that an appeal is the quickest way to get the matter settled, and that he and Conway simply reached different conclusions.
“We had a lot of conversations about this issue, and as I said, he wrestled with it, and I wrestled with it,” said Beshear. “We ended up coming to different conclusions. And I respect the decision he made, and I think he respects mine.”
A Republican state senator says he intends to file a bill that would permit a third-party to appeal a ruling that says Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Sen. Dan Seum tells Kentucky Public Radio that if Attorney General Jack Conway decides not to appeal a decision by Judge John Heyburn that nullifies the state’s ban on gay marriage, his bill would allow others to do so.
“We’re looking at the potential to file legislation that would allow some other group or some other person to intervene in the ruling other than the Attorney General," the Jefferson County Republican said. "Right now, as I understand it, only the Attorney General can intervene in this case, so we would maybe look at legislation that we could actually allow someone else to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Conway’s office says that the law doesn’t need to be changed and that Conway has defended the law appropriately to date.
Conway has asked for a 90-day stay to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling, which allows out-of-state same-sex couples to be legally recognized in the state of Kentucky.
A Lexington couple is celebrating a federal judge’s final ruling that orders Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Ross Ewing has been with his partner for eight years. The couple had planned to marry this summer in New York.
“By happy coincidence, we were and still are, planning on being in New York on the first weekend in June which is our anniversary. My partner sings in Lexington Singers and they are performing in Carnegie Hall that weekend. We were just going to get married while we were up there,” explained Ewing.
Now, Ewing says the couple is thinking about waiting a little longer for the opportunity to get married in their home state. With the ruling partially lifting Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage, Ewing believes it’s only a matter of time before Kentucky fully legalizes gay marriage.
“I just cannot help but see the comparison to inter-racial marriage. That didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen in all 50 states simultaneously, but it happened, and I just can’t help but see the parallel.”