Friday, April 18, 2014

155.2 - Good News: win for marriage justice in Indiana

Good News: win for marriage justice in Indiana

Another bit of good news about marriage justice comes from next door to Ohio, in Indiana, where on April 10 federal District Court Judge Richard Young granted an emergency request to force Indiana to immediately recognize the marriage of a lesbian couple who wed in Massachusetts.

The judge issued a temporary restraining order, which will last for 28 days, allowing time to schedule a hearing on a preliminary injunction. For the moment, it means for those 28 days, Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney are married. That ruling could be overturned, but Young found that the couple had met the requirements for emergency relief and there is a reasonable likelihood that they will win their overall case.

The reason for the emergency order was that this is good-news-bad-news: Quasney has ovarian cancer and is terminally ill. The concern here is accessing federal and state safety nets for surviving spouses and their children.

The state argued that Indiana's marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions, and - get this - that if the law changes after Quasney dies, thus validating the couple's marriage, Indiana could amend her death certificate.

So Indiana, the state arguing against recognition of one marriage here, the state that bans same-sex marriage only by statute and despite what is happening in the rest of the nation - and a good part of the world, in fact - is moving ahead with a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, is now grandly allowing as how if at some point in an unknowable future which the state hopes will never come, same-sex marriage becomes legal in Indiana, they will deal with this issue then - long after, they must by the meaning of their own arguments hope, everyone involved has died and so the whole thing is moot.

Indiana, the state that would make Birch Bayh roll over in his grave - were it not for the fact that he's not dead.

This case is part of one of five suits against Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages, all of which have been consolidated under Judge Young. Proponents of marriage justice took heart from the ruling because it could indicate the judge's thinking on the broader questions involved.

Ultimately, all this is going to wind up in the lap of the Supreme Court because it's unlikely that all the Courts of Appeal that are now involved in appeals from District Court rulings in five different states will rule the same way, which will leave it to Johnny Roberts and the Supremes to resolve things.

Which leaves me with just two things to say for now, both of which I have said before: One, Antonin Scalia has seen his dissent from the decision tossing out central parts of the grossly-misnamed Defense of Marriage Act quoted at least twice in recent decisions upholding marriage equality and throwing out state bans on same-sex marriage. It will be fun to see him try to deny the meaning of this own words.

And two, no matter the outcome of these cases at any level of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, this remains true: Justice is coming.

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