Judge orders Indiana couple's marriage recognized

April 10, 2014

A ruling Thursday morning by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young requires the state of Indiana to recognize the marriage of a local gay couple. Starting today Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler are Indiana’s only legally recognized same-sex couple.

But only for about a month.

The temporary restraining order expires in 28 days. The judge made the ruling after an hour-long hearing in Evansville in far southern Indiana.

The longtime couple who live near Chicago in Munster, Indiana, got married last year in Massachusetts.

Indiana, however, does not allow same-sex marriage.

But Quasney is terminally ill with stage 4 ovarian cancer, so they sued to have their marriage recognized—that way Sandler can receive death benefits afforded other married couples.

“We are happy the court made the decision to recognize their marriage so she can focus on spending quality time in the days she has left with her family,” the couple’s attorney Paul Castillo said.

Indiana Attorney General Solicitor General argued against the injunction, stating that under current state law, the marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions and the relief sought could not be granted.

The decision does not affect four other lawsuits challenging Indiana’s gay marriage ban.

Although county clerks in Indiana are still prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Castillo sees it as a positive step forward for gay couples.

“Our goal is to make sure that same-sex couples throughout the state both have an ability to get married within their home state and have their valid out-of-state marriages recognized,” Castillo said.

The issue of same-sex marriage remains a hotly debated issue in Indiana, although opposition isn’t as strong as it used to be, even as recently as four years ago.

An effort to write Indiana’s same-sex ban into the state’s constitution failed in the Indiana General Assembly in the most recent session that ended in March.

The marriage amendment was opposed by many major corporations and public universities.  

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