Indiana woman who fought state’s gay marriage ban loses battle with cancer

Niki Quasney
In this May 17, 2013, photo, Niki Quasney, left, talks about her ongoing battle with ovarian cancer as her partner, Amy Sandler, and daughter stand nearby at their home in Munster, Ind. Kyle Telechan, AP

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Paul Castillo, an attorney for Lambda Legal, which represented the couple, said Quasney and Sandler made history as they fought for equality, noting that the urgency of their case accelerated a 7th Circuit hearing on a challenge to Wisconsin’s gay marriage challenge as well.

“Niki and Amy and their daughters became Indiana’s first family when they bravely joined Lambda Legal’s marriage case, which meant openly sharing very personal and painful parts of their journey together as Niki battled cancer,” he said. “They brought this case and fought so hard because they loved each other and wanted their daughters to be treated with respect, just like any other family in Indiana.”

“Niki told the court: ‘If my life is cut short because of ovarian cancer, I want our children to know that their parents were treated like other married couples in their home state, and to be proud of this. I want to know what it feels like to be a legally recognized family in our community, together with Amy and our daughters.’”

Castillo said the couple “never wanted to be alone in recognition of their family.”

Chris Paulsen, spokeswoman for Indiana Equality Action, a coalition of groups focusing on amending Indiana’s civil rights laws to protect against discrimination, said Quasney and Sandler “put a face to the same-sex marriage fight.”

She said it was especially impressive because they spent so much time fighting to get same-sex marriages recognized knowing how little time Quasney had left.

“They chose to spend that precious time helping other same-sex couples win those benefits,” she said. “Their name will always be tied to the 7th Circuit case that won same-sex marriage for Indiana.”

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