St. Joseph County Begins Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses After Indiana Ban Struck Down

St-Joseph-County-Courthouse

Indiana same-sex couples are getting hitched after a landmark ruling in the state. US District Court Judge Richard Young found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, violating the 14th amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

“Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana,” he wrote in a 36 page ruling. “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

The ruling sets in motion a situation where some Indiana counties have begun issuing licenses and others are awaiting an appeal from the state’s Attorney General Office. Marion County, home to Indianapolis, began issuing license today.

After originally taking a wait-and-see approach, the St. Joseph County Clerk’s Office has begun issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Clerk Terri Rethlake traveled to Indianapolis for the court hearing and awaited a response from the state’s Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, on how to proceed. After not receiving one, she decided to begin issuing the licenses.

“I was down in Indy and I wentto the attorney general’s office. I didn’t get any information from them,” Rethlake told the South Bend Tribune. “They are still digesting the opinion. We made the decision to start issuing marriage licenses since the law is now unconstitutional. If they file an appeal or a judge issues a stay, it will be up to the judge what happens to the couples.”

The South Bend Voice reached out to the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office as well. While they originally were not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the state Attorney General’s Office advised counties to do so pending appeal from the state. Elkhart County followed the Attorney General’s guidance and began issuing licenses later in the day on Wednesday.

This story has been modified from its original form to reflect updated information.

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