INDIANAPOLIS - The State of Indiana must recognize a lesbian couple's out-of-state marriage throughout their legal fight to have one of the women named as a spouse on her terminally ill partner's death certificate, a judge ruled Thursday. The Indiana Attorney General's Office said it would appeal.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young's preliminary injunction extends last month's temporary restraining order requiring the state to list Amy Sandler as the spouse of Niki Quasney after Quasney dies of cancer. It holds throughout their court proceedings and applies only to them - not to other gay couples who were legally wed elsewhere and are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.
"We are so relieved," Quasney said in a statement from Lambda Legal, the gay-rights group that represented her and Sandler in court. "We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other. Our time together and with our daughters is the most important thing in the world to me. I look forward to the day when all couples in Indiana have the freedom to marry."
Young did not rule on whether Indiana's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. That ruling is expected to come later. The Attorney General's Office said in a statement that it is notifying county clerks of the decision and informing them that they still are prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to other same-sex couples in Indiana.
Attorneys for both sides expect the lawsuit and several like it throughout the country to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court. Rulings striking down gay-marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia are already being appealed.
Young said that marriage and domestic relations are traditionally left to the states, but state restrictions still must abide by the Constitution.