Broader decision on Indiana same-sex marriage ban could be coming

Broader decision on Indiana same-sex marriage ban could be coming
Niki Quasney (left) and Amy Sandler.
Niki Quasney (left) and Amy Sandler. Jeffrey D. Nicholls, Sun-Times Media (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge’s lengthy deliberations on whether to stay his ruling recognizing a same-sex Indiana couple’s marriage could signal that a broader decision is coming, legal experts say.

The state asked U.S. District Judge Richard Young for the stay on May 8, the same day he granted a preliminary injunction requiring Indiana to recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney.

The state also is asking the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review Young’s decision, which applies just to the one couple — not to others who were legally wed elsewhere and also are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.

Quasney is terminally ill with ovarian cancer. The Munster couple, who have two young daughters, were married in Massachusetts last year and have argued that lack of such recognition would endanger Sandler’s ability to collect Social Security and other death benefits.

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Marriage law expert Seymour J. Reisman said it is “absolutely unusual” for a judge to take so much time to grant a stay.

“The purpose of a stay order is immediate relief,” said Reisman, a partner in the New York law firm Reisman Peirez Reisman and Capobianco LLP. “When I say immediately, certainly no more than a week.”

The delay makes Reisman suspect Young may simply skip the stay order and decide whether to throw out Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban.

“It’s clear to me from what he’s done he’s not going to do what the state wants,” Reisman said.

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