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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Judge in Indiana grants same-sex divorce"

Tim Evans reported last Friday in the Indianapolis Star:

BLOOMINGTON – The mood was festive as Monroe Circuit Judge Valeri Haughton spent the morning of June 26 presiding over marriage ceremonies for gay couples who rushed to the courthouse here after a federal judge struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage.

That afternoon, the judge took on a more somber task — and one likely in the cards for at least some of the couples who she had just married.

Haughton granted the state's first sanctioned same-sex divorce.

The ruling — which came during a three-day window last week when same-sex marriage was legal in Indiana — brought an official end to the broken personal and legal relationship of former Indianapolis residents Melanie Davis and Angela Summers.

While the timing of the divorce ruling amid the gay-marriage window was coincidental, the couple's long, tangled journey through the Indiana court system reveals the challenges ahead for other married same-sex couples should they seek a divorce in Indiana.

In fact, legal experts say, it may be years before another same-sex couple is able to secure a divorce in the state.

Indiana law makes no provision for legally ending same-sex marriages. The rationale is simple and circular: Since same-sex marriage is not permitted or recognized in Indiana, there is no marriage to dissolve.

But that law does not jibe with the realities of lives in Indiana, where Hoosier couples for a decade have married in other states that allow same-sex marriage and hundreds more wed in the state last week after U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. * * *

Judge Haughton did not break state law, nor did she violate any ethical rules, when she granted the divorce.

Haughton was, in fact, acting at the direction of the Indiana Court of Appeals — after she had initially refused to grant the couple a divorce because of Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. [ILB: See this Dec. 20, 2013 post.]

It was the unique, individual circumstance in the marriage of Davis and Summers that allowed them to divorce. There were plenty of complications along the way.

The biggest: When the couple married, Davis was a man — David Paul Summers

There is much more to read in the long story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 6, 2014 01:01 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts