When a husband or wife passes away, the unavoidable task of arranging the funeral can serve as a measure of comfort to the grieving spouse. But in 2011, when Midori Fujii's wife of 11 years, Kris Brittain, died after a two-year struggle with ovarian cancer, the funeral home would not allow her the dignity of making those decisions because her California marriage is not recognized in Indiana. And since she was not "next-of-kin," they said, Fujii had "no relationship" to her wife.
Without access to the familiar language and legal label of marriage, Midori was unable to instantly or adequately communicate the depth and permanence of her commitment to her wife, or to obtain respect for that commitment as others do simply by invoking their married status.
Adding insult to injury, because her marriage is not recognized in Indiana, Fujii was required to pay more than $300,000.00 in Indiana inheritance tax on all of the property that her wife left to her, including their shared home. If Fujii were an opposite sex spouse she would have paid no inheritance tax on the property she inherited.
In March 2014, the ACLU of Indiana, along with attorney Sean Lemieux of the Lemieux Law Office in Indianapolis and the national ACLU, filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge Indiana state law banning same-sex marriage, Indiana Code § 31-11-1-1, saying the law violates the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit, Midori Fujii, et al. v. Indiana Governor, et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of 13 plaintiffs, and is currently pending. The suit seeks to stop the state from enforcing this discriminatory law, to require the state to recognize marriages that have taken place outside of Indiana, and to allow same-sex couples to wed in Indiana.
We are in the midst of an astounding point in history when Americans from coast to coast are realizing that all loving and committed couples deserve the freedom to marry.
Read the stories of the other plaintiffs in this lawsuit to bring marriage equality to Indiana: