Friday, September 19, 2014

Indiana same-sex marriage questions may go unanswered until fall

An Indiana Law blogger doesn’t foresee a 7th Circuit decision being made until briefings and oral arguments are held in August and September.

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.

Same-sex marriage ceremonies are off the table in Indiana for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what you should know about the stay on same-sex marriage:

In review

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday, June 25. That same day, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued an emergency request for a stay on the ruling. On Friday, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued the stay Zoeller requested, putting a hold on Young’s order.

What happens next?

According to The Indiana Law Blog, the three cases addressed in Young’s original order have been consolidated together, and he has set a briefing schedule in the appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The opening brief is due Aug. 6, the appellees' brief is due Sept. 5 and a final reply brief is due Sept.19.

“No decision by the 7th Circuit can be expected until briefing is completed, along with, in all likelihood, an oral argument. So we are looking at the fall,” Indiana law blogger Marcia Oddi wrote.

What happens to same-sex couples who got married before the stay was issued?

Though no legal decision has been made yet, history dictates that the federal government may recognize the 800-1,000 marriage licenses issued in Indiana before Friday’s halt.

After Michigan struck down its own same-sex marriage ban in March, it was met with a stay later that day.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement March 28 saying “the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government. These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”

A similar statement could be issued for Indiana.

“They're validly married,” Jennifer Drobac, professor of law at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis told the Bloomington Herald Times. “A stay simply says, 'Freeze, and freeze in whatever position you're in.’”

For same-sex couples who obtained a marriage license but either didn’t get married or didn’t return the license back to the clerk before the stay was issued, the future is even cloudier.

"We just don't know," Angie Nussmeyer, a spokeswoman for Marion County Clerk Beth White, told The Indianapolis Star. "We have attorneys looking into it and hope to know more next week."

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