A lot of people often refer to the triad of cases presented by Lambda Legal and ACLU of Indiana as the collective of Indiana marriage equality cases, but that's not entirely true. They're the only ones that have caused a splash when it comes to making same-sex marriages legal in the state. Last month, Judge Richard L. Young, a federal judge for Indiana's Southern US Federal Court district, wrote a decision that made marriage equality legal for about 48 hours until the Seventh Circuit of Appeals issued a stay at the behest of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Most people forget that there were actually 5 cases filed in federal court against the state's unconstitutional marriage laws. Three were advanced to the Seventh Circuit, one was summarily dismissed and the other is still undecided. For some reason, Judge Young is taking his time issuing a ruling which would again make same-sex marriage legal in Indiana if the judgment is in favor of the plaintiffs.
Such a broad claim is interesting, but it's true. In the case of Bowling, Bowling and Bruner v. Pence et al., 1:14-cv-0405, if it is found unconstitutional again and a stay is not immediately issued, same-sex marriage would become legal again in the state.
It should be noted that no one in this case particularly has requested to be married, but has asked for the state to recognize their marriages. The case was filed shortly after the other cases were announced by Indianapolis-based law firm Richard A. Mann, PC.
Prior to a decision being made, the attorney general filed a request for stay on July 14 for a stay of any decision the federal court makes in the Bowling case. The state has maintained that such action is warranted due to the Seventh Circuit's stay in the other three marriage lawsuits.
Robert Katz, a professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, says he would be surprised if Young issues an order and does immediately grant the stay, especially since the 7th Circuit stopped the enforcement of his previous ruling. Katz also stated that Young risks squandering his prestige and reputation if he does not stay his decision.
In the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, they strongly asserted that Governor Mike Pence is a proper defendant. Young dismissed Love et al. v. Pence, 4:14-cv-00015, agreeing with the state that the governor did not cause injuries and has no ability to offer a resolution.
The Bowling case claims that the governor should be a defendant because he does have the power to change some of the injuries due to the parties, including executive changes to the Indiana Department of Revenue and the State Personnel Department and can order them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.
If, indeed, Judge Young rules and does not issue a stay, marriage equality would immediately come back into play and open up another window for same-sex marriages in Indiana. That's assuming that the court does not issue a narrow ruling and have it apply only to these couples.
This is a developing story.