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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Ind. Courts - Wrap-up story on the five same-sex marriage challenges filed in SD Ind., starting on March 7th [Updated 3/16/14]

Jill Disis has a lengthy story in this morning's Indianapolis Star on the now five lawsuits filed since March 7th in the Southern District of Indiana, challenging Indiana's prohibition against same-sex marriage.

Earlier ILB posts have linked to the complaints in each of these lawsuits.

The Star story also includes a helpful side-bar distinguishing the five lawsuits:

[Updated 3/16/14] Rick Callahan of the AP has a story, here in the Gary Post-Tribune, also surveying all five lawsuits. The story quotes Ken Falk, chief legal counsel for the ACLU of Indiana, as saying:
[H]e expects the growing number of federal lawsuits will be consolidated into a single challenge against the state’s marriage law. He said the ACLU’s challenge citing the 14th Amendment involves “complicated legal notions that when boiled down stand for two things — fairness and equality.”
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has said his office will defend against challenges to the state’s marriage laws.
Zoeller's news releases make it clear that this includes appeals of any upcoming federal rulings adverse to the State.

The ACLU lawsuit bears a close resemblance to the recent SCOTUS decision in Windsor in that:

One of the plaintiffs is Midori Fujii, a Hamilton County resident who married her longtime partner, Kris Brittain, in California in 2008, three years before Brittain died of ovarian cancer.

Because Indiana doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states Fujii had to pay more than $300,000 in Indiana inheritance tax after Brittain’s death. If Indiana recognized same-sex marriages, Fujii — like any Indiana widow — would have had to pay no inheritance tax, said her attorney, Sean Lemieux.

“When you’ve spent your lives together, saving, building assets, protecting yourself, to have that then go into taxes because your marriage is disrespected is not only emotionally insulting but financially harmful,” he said.

The story continues:
Another suit was filed Friday by four lesbian couples who were married in states that allow same-sex marriages. Three of those couples have spouses who are police officers, while the spouse of the fourth couple is a retired firefighter.

Their suit seeks a permanent injunction ordering the state to recognize the couples’ marriages as valid and lawful. It also seeks that the state’s pension fund for police officers and firefighters extend the same pension and death benefits to same-sex spouses as opposite-sex spouses. [Lee v. Pence]

A third federal lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of a lesbian couple from Indiana who were married in Iowa and another woman who was also married in that state to her same-sex partner, but is now in the midst of a divorce. [Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence]

A fourth lawsuit challenging Indiana’s ban was filed on March 7, and another was filed on Monday by Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group, on behalf of three lesbian couples from Indiana. [Baskin v. Bogan]

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 15, 2014 08:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts