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Challenging Indiana's marriage law

Melody Layne and Tara Betterman of Indianapolis have lived together in a committed relationship for nearly five years. They share their home in Indianapolis with Melody's five year-old biological daughter. Although Tara does not have a legal relationship with the child, she is a parent in every practical sense, and their daughter understands that they are family. Layne and Betterman strongly support each other. They share finances and responsibility for their property, including the home they share. They also share vows and rings.

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.

In 2012, Layne and Betterman were married in Central Park in New York City. While they would have preferred to marry in their home state, they are prohibited from doing so by Indiana statute. Because their marriage is not recognized in Indiana, Layne and Betterman have gone to considerable expense to have an attorney draw up documents, such as health care and general powers of attorney, to try to protect themselves and their daughter. However, this affords them only a fraction of the legal security that comes with marriage, and they are concerned that those papers will not be honored in a crisis.

Layne and Betterman would like their marriage to be recognized in Indiana not only because of the concrete protections it would provide them and their daughter, but also because being treated as an unmarried couple devalues the commitment they have made to one another and their family. They hope their marriage will be recognized in Indiana before their daughter is old enough to be aware that the state does not consider her family deserving of the same respect afforded other families.

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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 ยง 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.

Click here to download a copy of the lawsuit

Read the stories of the other plaintiffs in this lawsuit to bring marriage equality to Indiana: