INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana won’t recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed before a federal court halted a lower-court’s decision to lift the state’s gay marriage ban, the governor’s office said Wednesday.
Gov. Mike Pence’s decision, first announced in a memo from chief counsel Mark Ahearn, applies only to state agencies that report to his governor’s office and would affect state services controlled by those agencies, such as food stamps or the ability to file jointly for state taxes.
Hundreds of couples were married from June 25, when a U.S. district court judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, to June 27, when a federal appeals court stayed the decision.
Pence, a Republican, told reporters at a Statehouse event Wednesday that the state was only abiding by the decision of the federal appeals court that stayed the earlier ruling that struck down Indiana’s gay marriage ban.
The Indiana attorney general’s office, which is handling the court challenges, had no immediate comment.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John C. Zody responds:
“How predictable that Governor Pence refuses to recognize the hundreds of marriages that occurred after the court struck down our discriminatory same-sex marriage ban. For most newlyweds, they have time to enjoy their union and the creation of a new family.
“Instead, the Attorney General stalled by providing foggy guidance in order for uncertainty to continue, giving the Pence Administration plenty of time to find legal loopholes to perpetuate the notion that our state’s welcome mat should only be out for some – those who fall under his narrow notion of a Hoosier family.
“Governor Pence is embarrassing our state by ignoring these families, creating an unwelcoming environment for those who want to call Indiana home. No Hoosier should be treated as a second-class citizen. What’s more, the Governor can’t even face Hoosiers himself to tell them he’s shutting the door on equality. He has to do it through a staffer.”
Also Wednesday, Utah opted to challenge a different federal appeals court ruling on its gay marriage ban, taking it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement the appeal will be filed in the coming weeks to get “clarity and resolution” from the highest court.
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said Wednesday he believes Indiana is wrong and the marriages are legal.
“During the time they were married they were lawfully married and the fact that the law, in effect, changed subsequent to their marriage does not void their marriages,” Falk said in an email to The Associated Press.
The sole exception to the appeals court stay in Indiana was an order for the state to recognize the out-of-state marriage of Amy Sandler and Nikole Quasney of Munster; Quasney is dying of ovarian cancer. The memo said the state would follow that order.
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, called the governor’s directive “excessive” and that it only confused the issue.
Democratic Marion County Clerk Beth White, whose office performed more than 450 same-sex weddings, called the governor’s decision disheartening and disappointing.”
“Gov. Pence owes these couples an explanation on why he continues to deem them as second class citizens,” she said in a statement.
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