U.S. judge: Indiana must recognize out-of-state gay marriages

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U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young ruled on Aug. 19 that Indiana’s law prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions is unconstitutional.

The decision was stayed, pending an appeal.

Young previously struck down the state’s marriage ban in a ruling in Baskin v. Bogan, which was consolidated with two other cases for an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit in that case will hear arguments next week, including argument in a Wisconsin marriage case.

After learning of Young's ruling, Sara Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign stated, "Where you live should never determine your ability to have your marriage recognized. These discriminatory bans only serve to harm LGBT families, and they should be erased from our nation’s laws once and for all."

In his ruling in the Baskin case striking down the state’s marriage ban, Young said that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was not a proper defendant in the marriage cases because he did not have the authority to permit or deny marriage rights under the law.

Hundreds of couples across the state began marrying until the Seventh Circuit stayed the ruling following a request from the state.

Pence later said the state would not be recognizing those marriages.

In his more recent ruling, Young said the governor is "a proper party to such lawsuits. The court wishes to reiterate that it finds the governor’s prior representations contradicting such authority to be, at a minimum, troubling.”

This is the 20th consecutive federal court ruling against state bans on marriage equality since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States struck down key parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

There are more than 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country in 30 of the 31 states where such a ban exists, plus Puerto Rico.

Cases from 11 states are pending before four federal appeals courts, including cases from Indiana and Wisconsin which will be heard by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 26.

The Tenth and Fourth circuits both recently upheld rulings striking down state bans on marriage equality.

In total, 33 states either have marriage equality or have seen state marriage bans struck down as unconstitutional in court.

The Supreme Court is under no obligation as to which case or cases — if any — it choses to hear on appeal. However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently told reporters the Court will not “duck” a marriage case.

"I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when they continually ducked the issue of miscegenation," Ginsburg said. "If a case is properly before the court, they will take it."