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Friday, December 20, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues major family law decision today

The ILB has obtained a copy of the filed and to-be-posted-today Court of Appeals opinion in the case of Davis v. Summers. I'm told this is the first known appellate decision in any state to hold that a gender transition during marriage does not make a marriage void under a state mini-DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage.

In In re the marriage of Melanie Davis and Angela Summers, a 9-page opinion, Judge Mathias writes:

Melanie Davis f/k/a David Paul Summers (“Davis”) appeals the order of the Monroe Circuit Court dismissing Davis’s petition to dissolve her marriage with Angela Summers (“Summers”). On appeal, Davis claims that the trial court erred in concluding that Davis and Summers’s marriage was void under Indiana Code section 31-11-1-1, which generally prohibits same-sex marriages in Indiana. Concluding that the parties’ marriage was not automatically voided when the trial court granted Davis’s petition to change her name and be identified as a female instead of a male, we reverse and remand. * * *

In summary, under the specific facts and circumstances before us in this case, a marriage between a man and a woman that was valid when it was entered into does not automatically become void when one of the parties has his or her birth certificate amended to indicate a change of gender. The statute prohibiting same-sex marriages does not apply to the particular set of circumstances in this case because the parties did not enter into a same-sex marriage in Indiana or into a same-sex marriage that was solemnized in another state. In addition, a marriage such as the one at issue here is not listed among those marriages declared void ab initio under applicable Indiana statutes, and would be improper to interpret the statute otherwise. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Reversed and remanded.

BRADFORD, J., and PYLE, J., concur.

The ILB also has obtained a copy of the brief of appellant in this case (the appellee was nominal and not represented). Access it here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 20, 2013 08:39 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions