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Same-sex couples’ Indiana marriage celebrations could be derailed

Thursday, June 26, 2014
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Kathy Saunders, left, and her partner Sharon Stanley fill out a marriage license application inside the County Clerk's office in the St. Joseph County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Bend, Ind.  Robert Franklin, South Bend Tribune (AP)

Kathy Saunders, left, and her partner Sharon Stanley fill out a marriage license application inside the County Clerk’s office in the St. Joseph County Courthouse on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Bend, Ind.

The ruling sent couples flocking to clerks’ offices across the state in a quest for marriage licenses, but not all were successful. Some counties declined to issue licenses to same-sex couples until they received guidance from the attorney general’s office.

That guidance, which came late Wednesday afternoon, instructed the five counties named in the lawsuits to comply with Young’s order or face contempt of court. It urged the other 87 counties to “show respect for the judge and the orders that are issued.”

Within an hour of the ruling, couples had lined up in Marion County — in Indianapolis — to obtain marriage licenses. Dozens even wed as Clerk Beth White officiated beneath a white metal arch adorned in netting, artificial flowers and white holiday lights.

The Marion County Clerk’s office said 186 same-sex couples were wed at its downtown Indianapolis office and more than 200 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples. The office remained open more than six hours past its normal closing time to handle the influx of couples seeking marriage licenses.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, called it an “excellent, excellent day for marriage” in Indiana. The ACLU represented several couples who challenged the ban.

“Marriage is, in many ways, the most conservative institution in human society. It’s the way we bind ourselves — forever — to someone we love,” Falk said.

Attorney Paul Castillo of Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group, echoed Falk’s sentiment.

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“We’re absolutely thrilled that the judge recognized that every day couples are denied the freedom to marry they experience significant harms,” said Castillo, whose group represented five gay couples who challenged the ban.

Opponents said they had feared the day when judges would issue rulings that trumped state laws enshrining traditional marriage.

“Regardless of what any judge says, marriage is about uniting men and women together for the best interests of children and society,” American Family Association of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark said in a statement. “Men and women are uniquely and individually important. They are not interchangeable or discardable.”

Gov. Mike Pence said he supported the attorney general’s plan to appeal the ruling but would follow the law.

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