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For couples challenging Ind., Wis., marriage bans, the fight is about fairness

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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Bonnie Everly, left, and Lyn Judkins, from Chesterton, Ind., embrace during a rally in support of gay marriage at the federal plaza Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Chicago.Charles Rex Arbogast, AP

Bonnie Everly, left, and Lyn Judkins, from Chesterton, Ind., embrace during a rally in support of gay marriage at the federal plaza Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Chicago.

For Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins of Chesterton, Indiana, a spring health crisis turned into one of their worst nightmares.

Everly, 56, was hospitalized for six days in March after the carbon dioxide levels in her blood soared and she nearly lapsed into a coma. During that hospital stay, she had a terrifying middle-of-the-night setback that made her fear she was dying.

But because she and Judkins, 58, aren’t relatives, Everly couldn’t get hospital staff to call Judkins, even though they’ve been together more than 13 years.

“They said, ‘We can take care of you,’ but I said ‘I need her!’” she recalled.

A night custodian finally helped Everly contact Judkins, who arrived at the hospital about 4 a.m., only to face a 15-minute wait before staff would admit her into Everly’s intensive care unit room.

While they could get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, Everly said the legal protections that would bring would vanish once they returned to Indiana. So they joined a lawsuit filed in March by national gay rights group Lambda Legal that’s one of several challenging Indiana’s gay marriage ban.

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