Lakeshore Report

Region Reaction to Same-Sex Marriage Legalization

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By: Hilary Powell

It is a busy work week for Hoosier court clerks.

At the Lake County courthouse, marriage department officials are working harder for their customers, and this week, some of them are new.

Marilyn Hrnjak, Lake County chief deputy clerk, says “This morning we had quite a few calls. I don’t believe anyone counted the number, however, the division manager of the marriage department said that there was quite a bit of activity with regard to the case. It was not only people calling to find out if they could get married if they were of the same sex but it was also the press calling and other interested parties.”

That’s because Indiana same-sex couples can again be married in the state. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear same-sex marriages cases from Indiana and four other states, clearing the way for same-sex couples to both apply for a license and have a marriage ceremony performed.

“So everything is now legal.” says Hrnjak.

Though the ban on issuing marriage licenses was lifted Monday, Hrnjak says a mandate Tuesday from the seventh circuit court of appeals made it the law for all Indiana marriages to move forward.

Hrnjak says, “The clerk can start performing marriages, the judges can perform them, the ministers, the clergy and so on and so forth.”

Across the state, enthusiastic reactions came from supporters.

“In Indiana, once and for all, love is love,” reads a banner on the website for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

“Love is the law in Indiana,” reads the site for the group Hoosiers Unite for Marriage.

In March, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of five couple including three from Northwest Indiana who couldn’t get married because of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Lambda Legal director Jon Davidson says he isn’t aware if any of his clients have wed yet…because he’s been so busy celebrating what he calls “remarkable progress.”

“A little over 10 years ago there was nowhere in the United States where same sex couples could get married. And now we have 27 states and District of Columbia where same sex couples can get married everywhere in the state.” Davidson said.

Davidson says now about two thirds of Americans, including Hoosiers live in states where same-sex couples can marry.

He says he hasn’t heard of any Indiana counties refusing to comply.

“The clerk is ordered to perform marriages and in the event the clerk does not comply with that order they are in violation of federal law.” Says Hrnjak.

Davidson said, “I think they need to understand, they’re no more entitled to refuse a marriage license to a same-sex couple than to any couple who they might have some problems with getting married.”

Jim Brilmyer, founder of the group Out and About Northwest Indiana, says this week was a win for equality.

Brilmyer says, “They’re joyous because they can finally be who they want to be and live their lives who they wanna live the lives they wanna live, just married now.”

Hrnjak says, “We had one couple that came in earlier this morning and after we were on solid ground with that, we went ahead and had them prepare, prepare the application. ” a good week, for sure.”

“It’s pretty incredible that same sex couples cannot constitutionally be denied the freedom to marry,” says Brilmyer.

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