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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

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Indiana couple in same-sex marriage recognized by court

A same-sex couple from Northwest Indiana, one of five couples in a federal lawsuit fighting the state’s ban on gay marriage, stood in court Thursday arguing for their marriage to be recognized in Indiana.

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who live together in Munster, Ind., with two children ages 3 and 1, were originally wed in Massachusetts. However, because of their Indiana residency, the conditions of the marriage are void by the state, making the couple ineligible for the benefits Indiana married couples would otherwise receive.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the couple’s marriage will be temporarily recognized by the state.

“We’re greatly relieved for Amy, Niki and their two young children,” said Paul Castillo in a statement.

Castillo is a staff attorney for Lambda Legal and represents Sandler and

Quasney is terminally ill, battling stage-four ovarian cancer, according to Castillo’s office.

“They are a loving family coping with a terminal illness,” Castillo said in the statement. “The State Indiana has no justification for denying them dignity, legitimacy, and respect as a family during this inexpressibly difficult time.”  

The couple’s relationship is recognized as a civil union in Illinois and married in Massachusetts in 2013, according to Castillo’s office. However, the marriage must be legally recognized in order to receive protection benefits from the state.

“In light of this new medical information this week, I wish to make additionally clear why I have decided to seek relief through this lawsuit,” Niki Quasney said in her declaration according to court documents. “That the State considers me a legal stranger to Amy causes me tremendous sadness and stress. I want us to be understood as a married family in Indiana while I am still alive.”

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is defending the state. Solicitor General Thomas Fisher represented the state at Thursday’s hearing, arguing that the marriage statute does not allow for hardship exceptions, according to Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office.

Federal Judge Richard Young disagreed. The recognition will stand until May 8, according to Zoeller’s office, at which point a preliminary injunction hearing will take place.

Tuesday’s ruling, considered a temporary restraining order, cannot be appealed, meaning the case will be considered yet again at the end of the 28-day period.
County clerks in Indiana will be notified there is no change in legal requirements regarding marriage licenses, according to Zoeller’s office, and county clerks remain unable to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Both the state and the plaintiffs will again be able to argue their cases at the preliminary injunction hearing. Plaintiffs will argue for the indefinite extension of the ruling.

“They’re married, they love each other and they are doing their best to protect their family,” Casillo said. “The local hospital defers to state law to determine whether a couple is validly married, and Niki worries that she won’t be able to be with Amy when it counts. Niki also wants to make sure Amy has the protections of a surviving spouse under Indiana law.”

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