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[ATG] Judge extends indefinitely legal recognition of one same-sex couple only
Start Date: 5/8/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 5/8/2014
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – A southern Indiana federal judge today granted legal recognition of one same-sex marriage involving a terminally ill plaintiff.  Chief Judge Richard L. Young granted a preliminary injunction to plaintiffs Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, extending indefinitely the temporary restraining order the judge had issued April 10. The preliminary injunction granting recognition to Quasney’s and Sandler’s marriage orders the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on any future death certificate for Quasney to list Sandler as Quasney’s spouse.  Chief Judge Young’s order applies to Quasney and Sandler only and does not confer or authorize legal recognition of same-sex marriage to any other couple.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is notifying county clerks that the federal court’s decision today is limited and applies to one couple in this case only, it does not apply to the other plaintiffs nor to anyone else and county clerks still are prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Indiana. 

Chief Judge Young heard oral argument in the case May 2 in Evansville.  Defending the State of Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health and the marriage statute in the lawsuit is the State’s lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. The case is assigned to Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher of the AG’s Office who will be filing with the Court a notice of appeal.

The temporary restraining order Young granted April 10 was set to expire Thursday and today’s ruling extends it indefinitely while limiting it to Quasney and Sandler only. The Attorney General’s Office expressed its sympathy over the difficult medical situation the terminally ill plaintiff faces; but the State’s position is that the motion should not have been granted since the current rule of law does not allow for a hardship exception from the statute for one person or two people, as that would create inconsistency for all other citizens of Indiana.  Moreover, a death certificate can be amended at a later date. Solicitor General Fisher noted that in order for the State to preserve its legal options, it must appeal Chief Judge Young’s preliminary injunction ruling.

The preliminary injunction was one of the motions pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in the lawsuit Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., a legal challenge to Indiana’s marriage-definition statute.  Chief Judge Young has not ruled yet on separate motions for summary judgment filed by the other Baskin plaintiffs and the State on the broader matters in the case.  The State contends the 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. The judge has the motions under advisement and will rule later.

Solicitor General Fisher is also representing the State in four other legal challenges to the marriage statute 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.

Location Information:
Lake County

State House

Vanderburgh County
Contact Information:
Name: Bryan Corbin
Phone: 317.233.3970
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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