Attorney general files appeal after latest ruling on same-sex marriage

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EVANSVILLE - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally outside of the state.

Judge Richard Young struck down the previous ban in Tuesday’s ruling.

Plaintiffs Michelle Bowling, Shannon Bowling and Linda Bruner brought the suit against defendants Gov. Mike Pence, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Michael Alley, and Anita Samuel.

This case, Bowling vs. Pence, was the last case left undecided in U.S. District court regarding the ban on same-sex marriage.

According to the ruling, the state is ordered to “recognize same-sex marriages that, but for their sex, satisfy all the requirements to marry under Indiana law. This includes directing all executive agencies to take actions to comply with this court’s order to afford same-sex marriages the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits as opposite-sex marriages.”

The attorney general's office filed an appeal Wednesday, asking the court of appeals to reverse the judge's decision.

You can find the text of the full case here.

Gov. Mike Pence is also in the middle of the judge’s latest ruling.

Pence had asked the court to have his name dropped from some of the marriage lawsuits, saying he didn’t have authority to enforce the laws.

The court had previously agreed, but in the judge’s latest decision, he changed his mind.

“Since that time, the governor issued memoranda, through his attorney, and did what he claimed he could not do by directing executive agencies on how to proceed in enforcing the law,” wrote Judge Young in Tuesday’s decision. “In light of this bold misrepresentation, the court must now revisit this issue.”

“It’s another positive ruling for the freedom to marry,” said Kyle Megrath with Hoosiers United for Marriage. “Judge young has stood up and said not allowing couples married out of state to have their legal marriage recognized is unconstitutional and we’re celebrating that decision.”

Pence’s communications director Christy Denault responded to the federal court ruling in a written statement on Wednesday.

“By law a governor exercises authority over the executive branch of government,” said Denault. “Governor Pence has a duty to uphold the laws of the state and will continue to do so while respecting the courts’ rulings. That does not make the governor a proper party in every lawsuit against the State of Indiana.”

The attorney general’s office also issued a statement to the media, from public information officer Bryan Corbin:

“At issue in the Bowling case was whether state government personnel benefits or a divorce protective order could be applied to plaintiffs who had same-sex marriages granted in other states that are not legally recognized in Indiana.  As the lawyer for the state government, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has a duty to defend Indiana’s statute – passed by the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature – from lawsuits that plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal.  The State had opposed an injunction.

Because Chief Judge Young stayed his ruling in the Bowling case consistent with the 7th Circuit’s earlier stay of June 27 in the consolidated Baskin cases, there is no action that county clerks in Indiana’s 92 counties need to take now.   Under the June 27 stay order, county clerks cannot grant marriage licenses to same-sex applicants or perform solemnization ceremonies for them, and that stay remains in place pending further order from the 7th Circuit.  The Indiana Attorney General’s Office will continue to notify county clerks of legal developments in the case, consistent with adherence to court orders in effect at the time.”

Meantime, the federal appeals court in Chicago will hear oral arguments next week in the original Baskin v. Bogan case that made headlines earlier this summer, overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban in its entirety.

“I think everyone’s hopeful we’ll have another positive ruling,” said Megrath.