IC 31-11-1-1Same sex marriages prohibited
Sec. 1. (a) Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female.
(b) A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.
What section b there means to me is that even though my wife and I were married in Iowa, the State of Indiana will not recognize it.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of a lesbian couple, one of whom was killed in the Aug. 13 stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, is challenging Indiana law for not recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples who are married.
Valparaiso attorney Kenneth Allen filed the lawsuit Aug. 19 in LaPorte County, Ind., Circuit Court on behalf of Tammy VanDam, who was killed in the stage collapse, and her partner, Beth Urschel, who was injured in the accident. VanDam and Urschel made their home in Wanatah, Ind.
The lawsuit seeks $60 million in damages based on claims that the stage was improperly constructed and that fair officials and promoters were negligent by failing to heed warnings of the impending storm and high winds that brought down the massive structure.
Seven people were killed in the collapse, including lesbian activist and health educator Christina Santiago of Chicago, and dozens more were injured.
In addition to the claims of negligence, though, the lawsuit filed by Allen alleges that Urschel was unable to recover VanDam’s body from the coroner’s office in Indianapolis, who told her they could only release VanDam’s body to legally recognized next of kin. Urschel and VanDam were married a decade ago in Hawaii but Indiana doesn’t recognize the marriages of same-sex couples.
“Here the only difference is we had two women who were married, as opposed to a man and a woman,” Allen said Aug. 22. “We believe that they are entitled to the same treatment under the Constitution.”
Allen said he’s eager to take up the issue in court in Indiana, where legislators are trying to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would ban recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships. There’s already a law on the books in the state that bans recognition of same-sex marriages.
“I’m convinced first of all that it’s obviously unjust, unfair and inequitable,” Allen said. “But I’m also convinced that the Indiana Legislature is never going to do anything about it and unless we address it through the courts, this inequity isn’t going to change. …I guarantee that however long it takes to win this case, it will happen much faster than waiting for the Indiana Legislature to address it.”
Sadly absent from any local Indianapolis news (although I sent them the information), I got more of the story from Huffington Post Chicago
"No doubt it's a challenge, but we're up to it," Allen told the Huffington Post. "The reality is we can't just stand idly by and accept this kind of inequity. People should be treated fairly and equitably. This is fundamentally wrong and unfair and I think it's important for us to try and rectify it."
While unfair, such difficult situations are not uncommon for same-sex couples who encounter tragedy both while traveling out of the state where they live, or by simply living in a state where any out-of-state marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships they might have are unrecognized.
Betty Tsamis, a Chicago attorney who has a long history of working closely with the LGBT community, described this fact as "the difficult and unfortunate reality for same-sex couples."
"The legal status of our relationships is a free-for-all whenever we leave the boundaries of the states that honor our relationships," Tsamis told the Huffington Post. "Just like states were allowed to deny recognition, at whim, to interracial marriages the current legal status quo has legalized this same form of discrimination on same-sex couples."
As I petition Congress both US and local to get the laws changed, I can only hope that this will help. In the mean time, please help to make change by signing the following petition.