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Last updated: Wed. Jun. 25, 2014 - 07:26 pm EDT

Judge strikes down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage

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INDIANAPOLIS – A federal court judge tossed out Indiana’s law barring gay marriage Wednesday – appearing to allow gay couples to immediately marry.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young ruled that Indiana’s discriminatory ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The case involved three different suits involving a number of couples seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana or recognition of a marriage from another state.

“It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love,” Young ruled. “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

In Marion County, marriage licenses were already being issued to gay couples Tuesday afternoon.

The judge’s decision also orders for immediate recognition of all out-of-state same-sex marriages in Indiana.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office released a statement saying he will quickly ask for a stay of today’s ruling pending appeal.

“The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is analyzing the Court’s rulings in the multiple cases and will communicate with county clerks on proper marriage license procedures they should follow in order to avoid chaos during the appeal,” a statement said.

Prior to Tuesday’s ruling, same-sex couples could marry in 19 states and D.C. Thirty-one states bar gay marriage.

“We’re thrilled that the court ruled in favor of liberty and equality for all same-sex couples and their children in Indiana,” said Paul D. Castillo, staff attorney for Lambda Legal – the law firm that fought the primary case in the suit.

“As Chief Judge Young recognized, these families, and so many others across the state, suffer significant harm when they are wrongly denied the freedom to marry the one unique person they love. Indiana now joins the momentum for nationwide marriage equality and Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history.”

The Indiana law withstood a challenge in 2005 when the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the statute defining marriage as between on man and one woman.

But this time the plaintiffs took their case to the federal system where other state statutes have been struck down.

Specifically, Young ruled the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause.

Indiana lawmakers earlier this year fought over whether to put the state’s law into the Indiana Constitution, which would have presumably protected it from a state court ruling.

But they had no control over the federal courts.

Young was appointed district court judge for the Southern District of Indiana in March 1998 and has served as chief judge since November 2009.

President Bill Clinton nominated Young and he was later confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Prior to his appointment, he served as judge of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court for eight years.

“That’s terrible. It doesn’t seem right for our state and I don’t think the judge made a good decision,” said Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn.

He is a longtime supporter of the state ban and has pushed the state constitutional amendment.

“It’s healthier for our society and our children. Intact families with one man and one woman as a married couple provide a better foundation for our society. The traditional home has made America great. Children from intact traditional families have fewer problems in their life, less delinquency.”

For more on this story see Thursday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to after 3 a.m. Thursday.

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