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The Crossroads of America
April 10, 2014 10:27 AM   Subscribe

A federal judge in Indiana has ordered that the state recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney.

Ms. Quasney was diagnosed in 2009 with ovarian cancer, which is now terminal. She and Ms. Sandler hold a marriage certificate from Massachusetts, but they have been unable to even remain in their home state for hospital treatments, as a result of their prior experience with the local hospital suggesting it would defer to state law to determine whether a couple is married.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (26 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aw, damn, it's dusty in here.
posted by rikschell at 10:30 AM on April 10


All these Indiana posts all of a sudden!

Reminder for the meetup.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:39 AM on April 10


I heard this decision was pending and was crossing my fingers it would go this way. Good for the judge. Evansville tends to be a contrary voice at times in Indiana, being stuck out of sight down in the toe of the state.

And, so far, the comments on the IndyStar link are actually tolerable. Usually, the Star's comments are a festering pile of right-wing bile. It's early, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:39 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


I could never have imagined this sea-change happening so fast 15 years ago. I have to stop and pinch myself every so often to be sure I'm actually living through such an amazing victory for civil rights and for love. I thought this would be a fight that took 60 years and ... it's almost over. Sometimes the arc of the moral universe is blessedly, wonderfully short.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:42 AM on April 10 [18 favorites]


I heard this story (no transcript yet) about the appeals court hearing on the Utah marriage decision from a few weeks ago. One of the people interviewed for the story talked (still!) about the state interest in marriage because procreation and children and so on, and I wanted to yank the radio out of the dash and throw it out the window. Even more now, because this couple that wants their marriage to be recognized? Hey, look, they have kids. But I guess "what about the children!" only applies to certain children. As usual.
posted by rtha at 10:51 AM on April 10


I thought this would be a fight that took 60 years and ...

...and it's actually taken 200,000.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:57 AM on April 10


One word for anti-gay bigots out there: dominoes. Dominoes, fuckers.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:58 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]


I'm happy about the court's order, but so angry that a family dealing with Stage IV cancer have to worry about how the hospital and the state would treat them and their family. People shouldn't have to go to court just to be treated in a decent and humane way.
posted by Area Man at 11:03 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]


Time to update the crazy quilt of varying legal statuses for same-sex marriage in the United States, and the list of Marriage Equality threads. Yaah!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on April 10


Dominoes, fuckers.

Dominos join like-to-like! OMG, they've been spearheading the gay agenda all along.
posted by yoink at 11:04 AM on April 10 [13 favorites]


Here is the statement from the Indiana Attorney General's Office:

On Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Chief Judge Richard L. Young granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) instructing the Indiana State Department of Health on how it should issue a death certificate concerning two plaintiffs, Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, in Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., a legal challenge to Indiana’ s marriage law, and instructing the State to recognize the marriage of those two plaintiffs only. Thursday’s TRO applies solely to Quasney and Sandler only; it does not apply to the other plaintiffs in the Baskin case, nor to any of the plaintiffs in four other legal challenges to Indiana’s marriage law, nor to anyone else in Indiana. The temporary restraining order is in effect only until May 8 and the Court will schedule a preliminary injunction hearing soon on the plaintiffs’ request to extend the order indefinitely. At the preliminary injunction hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to make their arguments.

Because the temporary restraining order involves two plaintiffs and one death certificate only, it does not apply in any way to marriage licenses of others. County clerks in Indiana will be notified that there is no change in legal requirements for granting marriage licenses as a result of this TRO. County clerks still are prohibited by law from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Defending the State of Indiana, the State Department of Health and the marriage statute is the State’s lawyer, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. At Thursday’s hearing in federal court in Evansville, Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher of the Attorney General’s Office presented the State’s legal argument that under the current rule of law, the marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions, and the relief the plaintiffs sought could not now be granted. Temporary restraining orders cannot be appealed; so the legal issue will be considered again and more fully at the Court’s upcoming preliminary injunction hearing.

Five legal challenges to the marriage statute are assigned to Chief Judge Young in U.S. District Court. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is defending the State and statute in all five cases.
posted by Area Man at 11:08 AM on April 10


Eyebrows McGee: I could never have imagined this sea-change happening so fast 15 years ago. I have to stop and pinch myself every so often to be sure I'm actually living through such an amazing victory for civil rights and for love. I thought this would be a fight that took 60 years and ... it's almost over. Sometimes the arc of the moral universe is blessedly, wonderfully short.


From the Indy Star article:
The suit is one of five such legal challenges filed last month to Indian law that bans same-sex marriage and prohibits recognition of such marriages conducted legally in other states. They join more than 60 others filed nationwide as part of a movement that took off last year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision gave full federal recognition to legally married gay couples.
Overturning DOMA was not a sudden change for marriage equality, but so very significant.

Oh fuck, so sad that it's for one death certificate only.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:11 AM on April 10


Yeah, this isn't "gay marriage now legal in Indiana" nor even "gay marriages from other states now recognized in Indiana," it's "this one particular gay marriage, and this one only, now recognized in Indiana. For now, pending the judge's ruling in the case."

It's not a domino falling, it's a domino moving about a micrometer off-center. It's still good news, of course, but it shouldn't be overstated.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:14 AM on April 10


Five legal challenges to the marriage statute are assigned to Chief Judge Young in U.S. District Court. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is defending the State and statute in all five cases.

Greg Zoeller, you're on the wrong side of history. Don't forget, US Attorney General Eric Holder said State attorneys general are not obligated to defend discriminatory laws.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Because the temporary restraining order involves two plaintiffs and one death certificate only, it does not apply in any way to marriage licenses of others.

This really is a key point. This move is extremely focused on the particular situation and only affects this couple. It really doesn't mean Indiana is suddenly going to allow same-sex marriage, I'm afraid. What it will most probably do is open the door to having the part of Indiana's legislation that bans recognition of out-of-state SSM's overturned by another court. Baby steps.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:16 AM on April 10


Read it as Amy Poehler, looked at the state in question, thought that she's really getting into character.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:26 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]


Lambda Legal has a handy organized chart of the pending marriage equality lawsuits and their progress.
posted by Corinth at 11:35 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]


Bear in mind that this is a preliminary order in an ongoing case. The final ruling, whenever it happens, will apply to more than just one couple, but right now the judge is focused on making sure that Sandler and Quasney can actually receive the benefit of a ruling in their favor, since by the time the case is over Quasney's death certificate will almost certainly have been issued already.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:44 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]


Likelihood of success on the merits is one of the key criteria considered by a judge when deciding whether to grant a temporary restraining order. So, this is a very good sign with regard to the ultimate outcome of the case and other Indiana couples. Judge Young likely thinks the plaintiffs are going to ultimately win this case.
posted by Area Man at 11:57 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why DOMA hasn't been knocked over by a "full faith and credit clause" challenge.
posted by kewb at 12:34 PM on April 10


Probably because of the portion of the clause providing, "And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof." There's still an argument to be made, but it isn't as strong as the equal protection arguments.
posted by Area Man at 12:53 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why DOMA hasn't been knocked over by a "full faith and credit clause" challenge.

Because nobody is really quite sure what "full faith and credit" even is, so the Court tends to dodge the issue rather than try to pin it down.
posted by fifthrider at 2:43 PM on April 10


Sounds to me like the judge is pretty sure the domino is going to fall, he just wants to make sure that these particular women don't get screwed by the law's necessarily ponderous pace. Or, I guess, what Area Man just said.
posted by KathrynT at 3:47 PM on April 10


Because nobody is really quite sure what "full faith and credit" even is, so the Court tends to dodge the issue rather than try to pin it down.

I think the law in that area is actually pretty well settled. In virtually all cases the court judgments of one state must be recognized by other states. There are only very limited exceptions to this rule. The problem is that marriages are not (ordinarily) judgments and thus are not entitled to this near-automatic application of Full Faith and Credit.

Instead, the recognition of a marriage is subject to ordinary choice of law principles. Generally a marriage will be recognized as valid if it was valid in the state in which it was celebrated, but other states are not compelled to recognize it. DOMA (Section 2) only codified existing law on the subject.
posted by jedicus at 4:07 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


There's an exception to full faith & credit for matters of public policy. Remember all the screeching about the Obama administration comparing gay marriage to incest? About the only line of cases on point are about cousin marriage and the like, and the DOJ was talking about that public policy exception to FFC.
posted by jpe at 6:49 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]


There's an exception to full faith & credit for matters of public policy.

It is true that
There will be extremely rare occasions, however, when recognition of a sister State judgment would require too large a sacrifice by a State of its interests in a matter with which it is primarily concerned. On these extremely rare occasions, the policy embodied in full faith and credit will give way before the national policy that requires protection of the dignity and of the fundamental interests of each individual State.
Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 103, comment b.

However, that exception has only been used for relatively technical points (e.g. not requiring a State to recognize a sister State injunction against suit in its courts on the ground that it is an inconvenient forum). It does not apply to the recognition of out-of-state marriages because Full Faith and Credit doesn't apply to marriage in the first place.

The "cousin marriage" case you're referring to is In re May's Estate, 305 N.Y. 486 (1953) and its descendant cases. It stands for the proposition that "The legality of marriage between persons sui juris must be determined by law of place where marriage was celebrated, unless it is prohibited by positive law of another state wherein parties are domiciled or involves polygamy or incest in degree regarded generally as within prohibition of natural law." But May's Estate was an ordinary choice of law case, not a Full Faith and Credit case.

Bottom line: Full Faith and Credit just doesn't enter the picture. It's a matter of ordinary conflict of laws principles, and unfortunately courts in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage would probably (and correctly) hold that out-of-state same-sex marriages do not have to be recognized in a state that prohibits them.
posted by jedicus at 10:11 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]


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