Politics

Plaintiffs, Couples Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

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June 26, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – “Did you know that we won?”  It was the question Greg Hasty asked the person who answered the phone at the Hamilton County Clerk’s office just after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same sex marriage. That’s why Hasty called the clerk’s office, where the staff said they weren’t ready to go yet.

“She knows, she’s been warned,” Hasty said after, pledging to keep calling until he could tie the knot.

Hasty and his partner of eight years – CJ Vallero – were plaintiffs in the lawsuit and were eager to get married. “I would’ve loved him my entire life,” Hasty said, “even if we lost.”

In the ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Young said Indiana’s state law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional and violates the due process and equal protection clause. The ruling states that same sex couples cannot be prosecuted or denied a marriage license.

The attorney general said Wednesday he was appealing the decision and had already asked the court to stay Young’s ruling until then. But that didn’t stop the celebrating.

There were hugs, smiles and congratulations shared at the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented same sex couples in court.

“People have been waiting a long time to have their love recognized,” said Kyle Megrath, marriage coordinator for Hoosiers Unite for Marriage.

Ken Falk, the legal director for America Civil Liberties Union, was one of three lawyers working on the lawsuit that claimed Indiana’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

“The world is not gonna end because same-sex marriage couples get married,” Falk said. He said gay marriage is “perfectly normal and it’s perfectly reasonable.”

The lift on the same-sex marriage ban was effective immediately and couples went to their county courthouses to get married before the appeals court could act.

“Run” was the first instinct for one same-sex couple when they heard the news that the state’s ban on gay marriage was lifted Wednesday.

Tricia Pohlman and Rene Delano said they both were at work when they heard the news and left immediately for the Marion County clerk’s office because “it could be over quickly.”

Delano said that her co-workers were “all pretty excited for us.”

Other couples came too. So did Julie McDonald, who said she’d “be right over” when she got the call from her friend Derek that he and his partner Sean were going to the City-County Building to get married.

“I’m every bit as excited as I was when I got married,” McDonald said. “And I’m thrilled for them and it makes my marriage even more valuable to me.”

Marion County Clerk Beth White said it was “historic” to perform the state’s first same-sex marriage ceremony and is “very pleased” to provide this service to deserving couples in Marion County.

However, some people are not as “pleased” as White with the recent ruling.

Micah Clark, director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said the purpose and meaning of marriage is going to suffer. He said that if same-sex marriage is legal, polygamy is not far off.

“It means a bi-sexual man should be able to demand to have his desires affirmed by marrying another man and another woman,” Clark said. “Polygamy and bigamy boundaries are gone and little of marriage as we’ve known it, is left.”

Eric Miller, founder of Advance America, encouraged the attorney general to request a stay.

“It is a tragic and sad day for the children and families of Indiana because one unelected federal judge struck down Indiana’s law protecting marriage between a man and a woman,” Miller said.

Falk said “it is unclear” what will happen to the validity of the new marriages should an appeals court issue a stay. He said in other similar cases, the federal government let the states decide how to view the marriages.

“We believe very strongly that it is rational public policy to recognize that when a man and a woman come together, new life can result,” said Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute.

But the “new life” argument was one of the reasons the judge ruled the ban was unconstitutional. Also, the defendants failed to prove Indiana’s marriage law is “closely tailored.”

The judge wrote the marriage law “only prevents one subset of couples, those who cannot naturally conceive children, from marrying. Additionally, Indiana specifically allows first cousins to marry once they reach the age that procreation is not a realistic possibility” – which is 65 under Indiana marriage laws. “Most importantly, excluding same-sex couples from marriage has absolutely no effect on opposite-sex couples, whether they will procreate.”

Miller vowed that he and others will continue to fight for an amendment to the Indiana Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

“The battle’s not over,” Miller said.

But Falk said that action won’t matter.

“The decision is based on the federal Constitution and there’s nothing the state of Indiana legislature can do about this,” he said.

The plaintiffs said this is not a day to worry about the appeal or other legal battles, but to celebrate.

“It’s happening,” said Melody Layne, one the plaintiffs. “Change may be slow, but it seems to be accelerating. I feel very hopeful.”

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