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[ATG] Statement from Attorney General's Office on Marriage Officiant Case
Start Date: 8/7/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 8/7/2014
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS -- A statement issued today by the Center For Inquiry Inc. in Amherst, New York, that it had reached a “settlement” with the State of Indiana in the marriage officiant lawsuit is premature, as no settlement has been reached. The state defendants still are exploring their options for appeal.  No decision whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court has been made yet, no agreement on ending the dispute has been signed and no settlement payments have been made to plaintiffs’ attorneys. The case remains under review by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office for possible appeal.

After the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the marriage officiant law July 14 and ordered the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to issue an injunction, the lower court as is commonly done asked the attorneys for all sides to submit a proposed injunction order complying with the 7th Circuit ruling.  The attorneys for the local and state defendants and the plaintiffs did so, and that injunction -- which on its face is extremely narrow and applies only to the Center for Inquiry, its trained and certified officiants and Reba Boyd Wooden -- has now been entered by the U.S. District Court.

Since an injunction was going to be issued regardless, the state defendants participated in drafting the proposed injunction order, which means that, for now -- pending any appeal – Reba Boyd Wooden and CFI-certified officiants can officiate at wedding ceremonies and solemnize marriages in Indiana, and not be cited with a Class C infraction for doing so.  The state defendants reserve the right to appeal the 7th Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, and have up to 90 days from the date of the 7th Circuit’s judgment to do so.  No federal court records indicate a settlement has been reached or filed, so it is not accurate to describe the recent proposed procedural order complying with the 7th Circuit’s instructions as a “settlement” or to conclude that the case will not be appealed, as an appeal still is possible and the case is not yet at an end.

The lawsuit is Center For Inquiry Inc. and Reba Boyd Wooden v. Marion County Clerk and Marion County Prosecutor.  The Indiana Attorney General’s Office represents the State in this civil lawsuit. The Marion County Clerk and Prosecutor are represented by the Office of Corporation Counsel. The AG’s Office defends state statutes the Legislature passes from legal challenges plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal, as long as a good-faith defense exists.   The statute challenged in this lawsuit, Indiana Code 31-11-6-1, authorizes various persons including clergy, judges and other elected officials to solemnize marriage ceremonies, and would make any violations a Class C infraction. As a practical matter, the state is not aware of citations being issued for violating this statute, and the state contended that couples seeking non-clergy marriage solemnizations had alternatives for doing so under the longstanding statute the Legislature passed.


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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