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[ATG] Indiana Attorney General's Office defends marriage law in federal court hearing
Start Date: 5/2/2014 All Day
End Date: 5/2/2014
Entry Description

Friday, May 2, 2014

Indiana Attorney General's Office defends marriage law in federal court hearing

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Today in federal court, the State of Indiana's longstanding legal definition of marriage was defended by the State's lawyer from a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the statute and also create an exception for two plaintiffs only.

At a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Chief Judge Richard L. Young heard arguments in pending motions in the lawsuit Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., a legal challenge to Indiana's marriage-definition statute.  The Court took under advisement the plaintiffs' and the State's motions for summary judgment and will rule at a later date.

Defending the State of Indiana, the State Department of Health and the marriage statute in the lawsuit is the State's lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General's Office.  Arguing the State's case today for the AG's Office was Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher.

The State contends the Baskin plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment should be denied and the marriage-definition law is constitutional and should remain intact.  The State's legal defense of the statute notes that the Legislature has the legal authority to determine how marriage shall be defined within Indiana's borders; and Indiana's Legislature has chosen in statute to define marriage in the traditional way – between one man and one woman – and to not legally recognize same-sex unions granted in other states. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court's decision last year in the U.S. v. Windsor case continues to leave this state policy decision-making authority with states and their legislatures.

Today the U.S. District Court also took under advisement a separate motion filed by two of the Baskin plaintiffs, Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, for a preliminary injunction that would extend indefinitely a temporary restraining order (TRO) the Court granted them April 10 that expires May 8.  That TRO granting recognition to Quasney's and Sandler's marriage instructs the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on issuing a future death certificate for Quasney listing Sandler as her spouse.  The State's position is that the motion should not be granted since the current rule of law does not allow for a hardship exception and that a death certificate can be amended at a later date.

County clerks in Indiana previously have been notified that the Court's TRO ruling on Quasney and Sandler applies to those two plaintiffs only, the TRO does not apply to the other plaintiffs in the Baskin v. Bogan case, nor to plaintiffs in other legal challenges, nor to anyone else in Indiana, and does not confer legal recognition of same-sex marriage to any other couples.  

Meanwhile, eight other Baskin plaintiffs withdrew their separate motion for preliminary injunction that was scheduled for argument today.  Solicitor General Fisher is also appearing for the State in four other legal challenges to the marriage statute not heard today; those cases also are assigned to Chief Judge Young.  Indiana's legal defense is being covered through the AG's Office's regular budget, approved by the Legislature in advance, with a salaried attorney who does not charge billable hours. Indiana is not using outside counsel to defend its statute.

Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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