Monday, October 6, 2014

As of Today, Same Sex Marriage Is Legal in Indiana

Today the US Supreme Court indicated that it would not hear appeals of lower court decisions that same sex marriage bans in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington and Indiana were unconstitutional. As a result, those rulings stand, the bans are overturned, and same sex marriage is legal in Indiana. It is theoretically possible that the Supreme Court would opt to take up another lower court decision at a later time, but there is no reason to believe, based on dozens of court decisions, that the Court would then declare thousands of marriages illegal.

Most state Republicans are conceding that the battle is done.

Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said "It is surprising, given the importance of this issue to our society, that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to take up this matter but instead to rely upon lower court rulings. That being said, the court appears to have sent a message that if they ultimately do hear these cases, they will support these lower court rulings and find that same-sex marriage is on equal footing with traditional marriage." Long also said efforts to amend the Indiana Constitution to include a ban on gay marriage were at an end.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller continued to call for the Supreme Court weigh in: "Our nation and all sides involved needed a conclusive Supreme Court ruling to bring finality to the legal question of state authority to adhere to the traditional definition of marriage." But he also conceded that same sex marriage is now the "law of the land" in Indiana and that the county clerks would commence issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples as soon as the Circuit Court lifts the stay.

Speaker of the House Brian Bosma declined to comment.

Governor Pence said his office would abide by the court's decision:"Under our system of government, people are free to disagree with court decisions, but we are not free to disobey them."

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath said the Supreme Court ended the debate: "For political purposes, we have squandered nearly a decade of our people's energy on the issue of who loves whom. The gamesmanship has dragged on and on through the past few legislative sessions. But as one court after another has struck down bans on same-sex marriage, the pointlessness of this maelstrom has become even more obvious." With the debate over, Pelath said "Let's move on."

Read about the impact of the Court's decision from the Star here and from the Statehouse File here.