Many Ohio same-sex couples travel to nearby Indiana county to marry

Many Ohio same-sex couples travel to nearby Indiana county to marry
Wayne County Courthouse in Richmond, Ind.Photo:

RICHMOND, Ind. — More than half of the marriage licenses that an eastern Indiana county issued to same-sex couples last year went to residents of Ohio, which the county borders.

Wayne County Courthouse in Richmond, Ind.
Wayne County Courthouse in Richmond, Ind.

A review of Wayne County records found that 22 out of 37 licenses issued for same-sex couples went to couples in which both partners were Ohio residents, the Palladium-Item reported. Eleven licenses went to Indiana couples.

That means about 60 percent of the county’s same-sex marriage licenses went to Ohio couples.

“Ohio doesn’t allow them to have same-sex marriages, so of course they would come to Indiana,” County Clerk Debra Berry said.

Indiana’s gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional last year.

Berry said she has heard similar reports from clerks in other counties bordering Ohio and Kentucky.

Randolph County Clerk Laura Martin said her staff has seen “several” couples from Ohio. Newly installed Union County Clerk Loree Persinger said their numbers have been about half and half for Indiana and Ohio same-sex couples.

“I think it’s something we expected,” Persinger said.

Paul Castillo, an attorney for Lambda Legal, which advocates for the civil rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, said it’s not unusual to see same-sex couples travel to other states to wed.

“The couples traveling from Ohio into Indiana are doing so out of necessity. … The state of Ohio is currently discriminating against them,” he said.

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Castillo pointed out the benefits to such couples marrying, and speculates Wayne and other counties along the border might see more Ohio same-sex couples coming to Indiana to have babies — so both parents can be listed on the birth certificate — or in cases of serious illnesses, so spouses can visit without restriction.

“I would anticipate that you’ll continue to see those couples,” he said.

Richmond City Clerk Karen Chasteen said she has been marrying two to three same-sex couples a week recently. To her, it’s a matter of treating everyone equally.

“If I’m marrying all these other heterosexual couples, then it just doesn’t make sense that I would turn someone away,” Chasteen said.

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