Federal judge rules Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere

Photo: Mike Pence. Credit: Official portrait.

Photo: Mike Pence. Credit: Official portrait.

A federal judge struck down Indiana law prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states in a decision handed down Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young, who previously overturned Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, found state law blocking recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

In June, Young ruled in three cases that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause. At the time, Young found that Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) was not a proper defendant in the marriage cases because he could not enforce Indiana’s marriage laws nor redress the plaintiffs’ injuries.

After that June 25 ruling, same-sex couples began to marry in the state until the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of the lower court’s ruling on June 27. In a July 7 memo sent to state agencies by Mark Ahearn, general counsel to Pence, all same-sex marriages performed between those dates were ordered to be treated as if they do not exist. It was that memo that led Young to revisit the issue in the decision issued Tuesday.

“[T]he Governor issued memoranda, through his attorney, and did what he claimed he could not do by directing executive agencies on how to proceed in enforcing the law,” Young wrote. “In light of this bold misrepresentation, the court must now revisit the issue.”

Young’s ruling comes as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments on Aug. 26 in the consolidated cases he ruled on earlier this summer. Young stayed his Tuesday decision pending appeal.

“The phenomenon that the court previously observed has continued to grow. Since issuing its prior orders, two circuit courts have found bans similar to Indiana’s to be unconstitutional. This court reaffirms that conclusion today,” Young wrote. “Additionally, the court, after witnessing the Governor do what he claimed he could not do, reverses course and finds him to be a proper party to such lawsuits. The court wishes to reiterate that it finds the Governor’s prior representations contradicting such authority to be, at a minimum, troubling.”

Indiana Marriage Recognition Ruling

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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