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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "State tweaking marriage license forms to remove gender references" But problems remain

Chelsea Schneider reports this morning in the $$$ Evansville Courier & Press:

The day after the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the same-sex marriage cases, the state was making tweaks to its electronic form county clerks use to process marriage licenses, and Gov. Mike Pence’s office sent state agency heads an advisory on complying with the court’s order. * * *

The Indiana State Department of Health planned to update the online version of the forms beginning Tuesday evening, making changes available to county clerks by Wednesday morning, according to Amy Reel, a spokeswoman for the state agency. Additionally, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office has advised clerks who use paper forms to cross out the titles of “husband” and “wife” to make the forms gender neutral, according to an advisory the office issued to clerks in all 92 Indiana counties.

In a memorandum sent by Pence’s general counsel, agency heads were told they needed to recognize same-sex marriages and heterosexual marriages equally.

“No executive branch agency may deny any state benefit or recognition otherwise available or provided to a married individual because that individual is married to a person of the same sex, whether that individual was married in Indiana or another jurisdiction,” according to the memo by Mark Ahearn.

Ahearn also advises state agency heads to take the actions necessary to follow the court’s order. [ILB - I wonder if this is the same memo he sent out in June?]

ILB: Sure enough, this morning the online form is updated, you can now see the changes starting here, where the corrected right column lists "Applicant 1" and "Applicant 2", rather than "Male Applicant" and "Female Applicant" as had been required until today. The earlier form can be seen in this June 26, 2014 ILB post.

Interestingly, although it is reported that the Health Dept. updated the form, the bottom of the new form indicates "The Marriage License e-File application was developed by the Division of State Court Administration's Judicial Technology and Automation Committee and is based on applicable state laws and regulations."

Problems Remain. Although the forms are now correct, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The reason for automating the marriage license application was to create a Marriage License Database. The bottom of the June 26th ILB post gives the example of Jacob R. Miller and Michael C. Bowen, who were the "first same-sex couple to wed in Indy." To look them up in the Indiana Court's Marriage License Database, you have to know which name was "bride" and which was "groom." So if you search for "Miller, Jacob" in the wrong boxes, you get "We're sorry. Your search for "jacob miller" did not return any results." The same likely holds true for any of the other hundreds of licenses issued during the June "window."

Two questions.

  1. Will the June window problem be repaired?

  2. What about Applicant 1 and Applicant 2? Will the same problem exist now if you do not know which member of the couple registered as applicant #1?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 8, 2014 10:21 AM
Posted to Indiana Government