Updated: 4:00 p.m. EDT
U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause because it treats couples differently based on their sexual orientation. The ruling also said Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state.
“Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana,” he wrote. “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”
The Marion County Clerk’s Office began issuing marriage licenses and performing civil ceremonies shortly after the ruling. As of mid-afternoon, about two dozen same-sex couples were lined up for licenses.
“That’s all we ever wanted, was to be treated equal, and that’s what this means,” Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality Action, said after marrying his partner, Robert Owens, at the clerk’s office Wednesday.
The Indiana attorney general’s office said it would appeal the ruling and quickly ask Young to stay his order. It isn’t clear whether marriages performed Wednesday would continue to be recognized if a stay is granted.
Article continues belowThe attorney general’s office has defended the state law in court, saying the Legislature has the legal authority to define marriage within Indiana’s borders. The agency also said it would advise county clerks on what procedures to follow in the wake of the ruling.
Jake Miller, 30, a software engineer, and 35-year-old Craig Bowen, a digital design engineer, were the first couple to be married in Indianapolis following Wednesday’s ruling. Miller and Bowen have been together eight years.
“Our parents don’t know, so they might be a little bit mad at us,” Miller said about the sudden marriage.