NewsPublic Affairs / May 8, 2014

Judge Says State Must Recognize Lesbian Couple's Marriage

Brandon Smith
Judge Says State Must Recognize Lesbian Couple's Marriage

A federal judge Thursday ordered Indiana to continue recognizing the marriage of one of the same-sex couples challenging the state’s gay marriage ban.

Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler were married in Massachusetts last year. They’re part of a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s marriage statute. But they also asked for emergency recognition of their marriage because Quasney is terminally ill with ovarian cancer.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young last month granted the request. That order expired Thursday and Young issued a second ruling, granting Quasney and Sandler a preliminary injunction, saying that recognition of their marriage is the only way to ease Quasney’s suffering.

Indiana University law professor Deborah Widiss says Thursday’s ruling doesn’t change much from Young’s initial decision.

“I think he’s a little more definitive in saying that his ‘best guess’ is that the plaintiffs are likely to prevail, but this is still not a definitive ruling on the larger case,” Whydiss said.

The ruling only applies to Quasney and Sandler – a decision involving the rest of the couples challenging the statute has not been made. In a statement, Indiana Attorney General’s office spokesman Bryan Corbin said that while the state is sympathetic towards Quasney and Sandler, it disagrees with the judge’s ruling and will appeal.

Quasney and Sandler, who live in Munster, told the Associated Press that were relieved by the ruling. The couple want their marriage to be recognized on Quasney's death certificate to make certain Sandler can obtain death benefits.