[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Thursday that the state of Indiana must recognize the out-of-state marriage of a same-sex couple during the couple’s legal battle to have the name of one of the women listed as spouse on the death certificate of her terminally ill partner. The preliminary injunction [AP report], granted by US District Judge Richard Young [official profile], extends a restraining order [JURIST report] requested on behalf of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney last month and applies only to the couple. Lawyers for the couple argued that the order was necessary so that Quasney, who is terminally ill, could access federal and state survival benefits for her wife and their children. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office [official website] has expressed that it intends to appeal and has notified county clerks that they may not issue marriage licenses to other same-sex couples. Young did not rule the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but he did state that while this is a matter typically left to the states, states still may not enforce statutes that conflict with the Constitution.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most hotly debated topics in the legal community today. In March the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the state of Indiana challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. The lawsuit [complaint, PDF], one of three filed recently in attempts to overturn Indiana’s ban on gay marriage, was filed on behalf of 15 plaintiffs [ACLU profiles], including a widow and two children. In February the Indiana Senate [official website] approved [JURIST report] a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state.