State Attorney General weighs-in on marriage case
Sunday, April 13, 2014 10:00 PM
On Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Chief Judge Richard L. Young granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) instructing the Indiana State Department of Health on how it should issue a death certificate concerning two plaintiffs, Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, in Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., a legal challenge to Indiana' s marriage law, and instructing the State to recognize the marriage of those two plaintiffs only. Thursday's TRO applies solely to Quasney and Sandler only; it does not apply to the other plaintiffs in the Baskin case, nor to any of the plaintiffs in four other legal challenges to Indiana's marriage law, nor to anyone else in Indiana. The temporary restraining order is in effect only until May 8 and the Court will schedule a preliminary injunction hearing soon on the plaintiffs' request to extend the order indefinitely. At the preliminary injunction hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to make their arguments.
Because the temporary restraining order involves two plaintiffs and one death certificate only, it does not apply in any way to marriage licenses of others. County clerks in Indiana will be notified that there is no change in legal requirements for granting marriage licenses as a result of this TRO. County clerks still are prohibited by law from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Defending the State of Indiana, the State Department of Health and the marriage statute is the State's lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General's Office. At Thursday's hearing in federal court in Evansville, Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher of the Attorney General's Office presented the State's legal argument that under the current rule of law, the marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions, and the relief the plaintiffs sought could not now be granted. Temporary restraining orders cannot be appealed; so the legal issue will be considered again and more fully at the Court's upcoming preliminary injunction hearing.
Five legal challenges to the marriage statute are assigned to Chief Judge Young in U.S. District Court. The Indiana Attorney General's Office is defending the State and statute in all five cases.
Greg Zoeller is the Indiana Attorney General. His column appears this week in The Paper's Monday space allocated for public officials.