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More than 100 first responders file brief supporting marriage equality in Indiana

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
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Indiana State Police, firefighters and EMS workers at the scene of a fatal accident on an Indiana highway in 2011.AP (File)

Indiana State Police, firefighters and EMS workers at the scene of a fatal accident on an Indiana highway in 2011.

INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of Indiana firefighters, police officers and emergency medical workers say a federal appeals court should uphold same-sex marriage in Indiana and Wisconsin for the sake of the families of gay first responders, a spokeswoman said Monday.

More than 100 first responders have signed a legal brief that will be filed Tuesday with the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals, said spokeswoman Jennifer Wagner of an advocacy group called Hoosiers Unite for Marriage.

The signers – from Indianapolis, Evansville, Terre Haute, New Albany, Kokomo and other Indiana communities – argue the two states deny gay first responders “the equal dignity and respect they deserve.”

“Heterosexual colleagues go to work knowing that, should tragedy befall them in the line of duty, Indiana and the communities they served will come to their family’s aid – with financial resources, healthcare, and higher education. But even though (the signers) walk shoulder to shoulder with their heterosexual colleagues, beneath them in Indiana is no safety net, only darkness born of fear and discrimination,” a draft of the brief states.

The plaintiffs who challenged Indiana’s gay marriage ban include firefighters and police officers.

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Federal judges in Indiana and Wisconsin overturned each state’s gay marriage ban in separate rulings. When both states appealed, the appeals court combined the cases. The court has scheduled oral arguments in both states’ appeals for Aug. 26.

Hundreds of same-sex couples were married in both states after the bans were overturned and before the appeals court issued stays.

At least 20 briefs have been filed in the case, many of them supporting the two states, including one from the attorneys general of 10 other states. The briefs from opponents of same-sex marriage cite political theory, social stability and even biblical text as supporting their positions.

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