Editor’s Note: This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young, appointed in 1997 by President Bill Clinton, struck down Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriage today. He did not issue a stay on his ruling, meaning that same-sex couples can marry at will without delay. Judge Young also ordered all Indiana agencies to begin providing the benefits of marriage to same-sex pairs.
Judge Young, who sits on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana based in Evansville, wrote in his ruling, “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.”
The first same-sex pair to marry in light of this legal decision was Craig Bowen and Jake Miller, who raced to the City-County Building from their downtown workplaces. (Full disclosure: Bowen is an employee of Emmis Communications, IM‘s parent company.) Marion County Clerk Beth White said in a statement that she is ready to issue marriage licenses to same-sex pairs to come through the door at the City-County Building downtown: “The clerk’s office will be open until 8 p.m. this evening to issue licenses. I will also conduct short, civil ceremonies on a first-come, first-serve basis.” Bowen and Miller paid $18 total for their marriage certificates. (Note: If one member of a pair is from outside Indiana, the cost is $65.)
In the case of Baskin v. Bogan, Lambda Legal and others sued the State of Indiana on behalf of several same-sex couples. Indiana Equality Action’s Chris Paulsen had said, at a joint event with Indy Pride Inc. and the Indiana Fever on June 11, that Indiana had, at the time, five pending legal cases revolving around same-sex marriage, the most of any state in the Union.
“Today’s ruling is further proof that bans on marriage equality like the one struck down in Indiana today cannot withstand judicial review,” Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement. “Where you live should never determine whether or not you can marry the person you love, and today we congratulate the plaintiffs and their attorneys with Lambda Legal, the law office of Barbara Baird, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP for bringing America one step closer to nationwide marriage equality.”
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage in 2013, no state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge. At present, same-sex couples can legally marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Another 31 states have laws or constitutional amendments barring marriage between anyone other than one man and one woman.