Judge strikes down Ind. same-sex marriage ban, allowing couples - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge strikes down Ind. same-sex marriage ban, allowing couples to marry

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gay couples in Indiana are able to marry after a federal court ruling Wednesday, but locally, there's still some confusion.

Clark County Clerk Barbara Bratcher-Haas told WDRB News her office issued "a handful" of licenses to same-sex couples late Wednesday afternoon, and that she performed one marriage for a same-sex couple at the courthouse in Jeffersonville.

Bratcher-Haas expects a line of couples wanting to apply for licenses when her office opens at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Haas said Clark County Attorney Jacob Elder had advised her "to follow the ruling" of the appeals court and to treat same-sex couples the same as any couple seeking a marriage license.

The county clerk's office in Floyd County told WDRB News Wednesday afternoon its workers were in "a holding pattern," waiting for direction from the state. Part of the holdup was an issue with the state computer system.

Both offices say they have gotten a number of phone calls from same sex couples wanting to marry. 

One such couple was Brad Bell and his partner. The couple, who adopted a daughter last year, hope they can be among those first in line in Floyd County to receive their marriage license.

"It might be just a little piece of paper to some, but it's a mark of when you can't get something, when you're denied something, you just really feel like a second class citizen," said Bell.

Meanwhile, the Marion County clerk's office in Indianapolis has started marrying couples. The office is asking for a $50 donation to a group supporting gay, lesbian, and transgender teens in exchange for conducting short civil ceremonies. At least 200 people were still in line at the clerk's office by mid-afternoon. Many enjoyed cake as they waited to apply for their marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that the state's ban was unconstitutional on Wednesday. He went on to say gay couples have the same marriage rights as couples of opposing genders. The ruling involves lawsuits from several gay couples.

Louisville Attorney, Dan Canon, has filed lawsuits in Indiana and Kentucky on behalf of same sex couples. "Obviously, we're very pleased with the overall ruling," said Canon. "It's a victory for the constitutional rights of our plaintiffs and everybody that was involved in any of these cases."

Indiana's Attorney General plans to appeal the ruling. His office has asked Young to stay his ruling during an appeal. The state has asked for an emergency stay and has filed a notice of appeal with the federal appellate court in Chicago.

The stay request says it is premature to require Indiana to change its definition of marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue. But it says marriages are already taking place in violation of the ban and are expected to continue. The state says it's urgent that Young stop the same-sex marriages before a final decision on the issue.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Wednesday that states should be allowed to define marriage but will comply with the ruling. Pence has long said he believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The definition of marriage arguments and a related constitutional amendment were a top topic in recent Indiana legislative sessions.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long said Wednesday that only the Supreme Court can end the "chaos" being created by a series of lower court rulings on gay marriage. Democrats hailed the ruling and said their Republican colleagues should lay the issue to rest.

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