State of Indiana, plaintiffs ask Supreme Court to hear same-sex marriage case

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SCOTUS in Spring

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 9, 2014) – Indiana has formally filed its appeal with the Supreme Court of the United States in the state’s same-sex marriage case.

The 57-page appeal, called a petition for writ of certiorari, asks the court to reinstate Indiana’s definition of marriage.

A federal appeals court ruled Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional last week. The ruling from the three-judge panel affirmed an earlier decision by a federal judge, who said the law violated the U.S. Constitution.

The appeals court ruling was stayed pending the expected appeal to the Supreme Court, meaning same-sex couples won’t be issued marriage licenses and out-of-state gay marriages still won’t be recognized in Indiana.

Lambda Legal, the gay rights advocacy group representing several plaintiffs, also asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued the following statement about the appeal:

“Less than six months after my office first entered our appearance in trial court to defend our state client from this lawsuit, our case now is knocking on the door of the United States Supreme Court, timing that is lightning speed by the standards of the federal court system. Our state, nation and all persons involved need a final, unambiguous and conclusive answer from the Supreme Court on the legal authority of states to license marriages, and we ask the Court to take up this question through either our case or another case at its earliest opportunity and end the uncertainty.”

Tuesday marked a deadline for Indiana to file its cert petition in order to be considered along with Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia during the Supreme Court’s first conference on Sept. 29. There, justices will decide which cases to hear in the next term, which begins in October and runs through June 2015.

The state cited the other same-sex marriage decisions, saying that federal appeals courts used different reasoning and legal precedents to strike down each one. Due to that split, the state said the Supreme Court should conclusively resolve the matter.

The petition’s introduction reads in part:

There can be little doubt about the certworthiness of the issues presented in this case, i.e., whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires States to define marriage to include same-sex couples or recognize same-sex marriages from other States. The main question at this point is which case or cases present the best vehicle(s) for the efficient and complete resolution of these issues that the Nation needs. The Court has already tried to address the same-sex marriage issue once, but was stymied by a background political drama that ultimately deprived the Court of a suitable party willing to defend traditional marriage. Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652 (2013). Particularly given the national upheaval and confusion over this issue that has occurred in the wake of United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), this time around the Court will no doubt choose with special care the case or cases it uses to reach the merits.

Kyle Megrath from Hoosiers United for Marriage had the following statement:

“We held out the slimmest hope that Attorney General Zoeller and Governor Pence would stop their endless defense of an unconstitutional law that harms loving, committed same-sex couples and their families. Two courts have now struck down this law, and it’s clear that Hoosiers support protecting these couples and recognizing their marriages.

“That’s why the plaintiffs in this case also filed a brief today asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue of marriage equality in its upcoming term.”

“The fight for the freedom to marry isn’t over yet, and we’re more committed than ever to making sure that Indiana families have the protections they deserve.”