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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Federal Court Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Indiana

“... For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that Indiana’s same sex marriage ban violates the due process clause and equal protection clause and is, therefore, unconstitutional...

... Here, Plaintiffs are not asking the court to recognize a new right; but rather, “[t]hey seek ‘simply the same right that is currently enjoyed by heterosexual individuals: the right to make a public commitment to form an exclusive relationship and create a family with a partner with whom the person shares an intimate and sustaining emotional bond.’” Bostic, 970 F. Supp. 2d at 472 (quoting Kitchen, 961 F. Supp. 2d at 1202-03). The courts have routinely protected the choices and circumstances defining sexuality, family, marriage, and procreation. As the Supreme Court found in Windsor, “[m]arriage is more than a routine classification for purposes of certain statutory benefits,” and “[p]rivate, consensual intimacy between two adult persons of the same sex... can form ‘but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring.’” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2693 (quoting Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 567). The court concludes that the right to marry should not be interpreted as narrowly as Defendants urge, but rather encompasses the ability of same-sex couples to marry...

[T]he right to marry is about the ability to form a partnership, hopefully lasting a lifetime, with that one special person of your choosing. Additionally, although Indiana previously defined marriage in this manner, the title of Section 31-11-1-1 - “Same sex marriages prohibited” - makes clear that the law was reaffirmed in 1997 not to define marriage but to prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying the individual of their choice. Thus, the court finds that Indiana’s marriage laws discriminate based on sexual orientation...

The court has never witnessed a phenomenon throughout the federal court system as is presented with this issue. In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions - laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage - not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such. Today, the “injustice that [we] had not earlier known or understood” ends. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2689 (citing Marriage Equality Act, 2011 N.Y. Laws 749). Because “[a]s the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 579...


Pursuant to the reasoning contained above, the court DECLARES that Indiana Code §31-11-1-1(a), both facially and as applied to Plaintiffs, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause. Additionally, the court DECLARES that Indiana Code § 31-11-1-1(b), both facially and as applied to Plaintiffs, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Because this is a facial challenge, same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana.

Having found that Indiana Code § 31-11-1-1 and the laws in place enforcing such violate the Plaintiffs’ rights under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause, Defendants and their officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys, and those acting in concert with them are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing Indiana Code Section 31-11-1-1 and other Indiana laws preventing the celebration or recognition of same-sex marriages. Additionally, Defendants and officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys, and those acting in concert with them, are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from enforcing or applying any other state or local law, rule, regulation or ordinance as the basis to deny marriage to same-sex couples otherwise qualified to marry in Indiana, or to deny married same-sex couples any of the rights, benefits, privileges, obligations, responsibilities, and immunities that accompany marriage in Indiana...”

Chief Judge Richard L. Young, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, June 25, 2014.

      click here to read entire decision

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