INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge has said that attorneys defending Indiana’s gay marriage ban haven’t given a valid reason why the state should not recognize the out-of-state marriage of a lesbian couple, one of whom has a terminal illness.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young’s written order, issued Friday, outlined the rationale behind his decision earlier this month to grant Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler a temporary restraining order that bars the state from enforcing its gay marriage ban against their union.
The federal order applied only to Quasney and Sandler, even though they were part of a larger lawsuit involving several gay couples. Indiana does not recognize same-sex marriages performed inside or outside of the state.
The Munster couple had asked Indiana to recognize their marriage, which took place in Massachusetts, one of 17 states where gay marriage is legal. Quasney and Sandler have been together 13 years and they have two daughters, ages 1 and 2, conceived through “reproductive technology” and birthed by Sandler, according to court records.
Quasney has stage 4 ovarian cancer, and the couple had argued that the court should grant their request because “they have an urgent need to have their marriage recognized.” Young ordered the state on April 10 to recognize their marriage on Quasney’s death certificate when it is issued. Quasney is still alive.
In the 11-page order issued Friday, Young said he granted the request partly because the couple is likely to succeed in having Indiana’s gay marriage ban declared unconstitutional. He also said that Quasney’s terminal illness required urgent action.
“The Equal Protection Clause requires states to treat people equally under the law,” wrote Young, who was appointed in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton. “If the state wishes to differentiate between people and make them unequal, then it must have at least a legitimate purpose.”