Our Letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

July 25, 2014

When we posted our July 11 letter to Attorney General Holder, we also told you that we were not sure if there was anything to be done about Governor Pence's position that same-sex marriages will not be recognized under Indiana law. Recent events in other courts have given us some direction on what we may or may not be able to accomplish in the coming months.

Utah also had a "window period" between its district court ruling striking down the law prohibiting same-sex marriage and before a stay was issued. After the stay, Utah, like Indiana, did not intend to recognize those marriages. A lawsuit was filed seeking an order declaring those marriages valid under state law. And, the federal district court declared that the window period marriages were in fact valid under Utah law. This ruling was upheld on appeal. (Attorney General Holder had already extended federal recognition.)

However, last week the decision on state recognition was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that state recognition of same-sex marriages in Utah is again on hold, and Utah will continue to treat those marriages as invalid until all appeals on Utah's same-sex marriage cases are resolved.

If the U.S. Attorney General issues a statement extending federal recognition to Indiana's June marriages, we will ask for completed marriage certificates to be processed so couples may pursue available federal rights and benefits.

Because of this, there does not appear to be any benefit to filing a new lawsuit here asking a court in Indiana to declare our window period marriages valid under state law. If we won, a stay would likely be entered immediately and nothing would change.

For now, we wait to hear from Attorney General Holder. If he issues a statement extending federal recognition to Indiana's June marriages, we will ask that all entities in Indiana that must process completed marriage certificates do so and that couples be provided with any proof they may need to pursue available federal rights and benefits.

Finally, you may have heard that the August 13 date for oral argument in the appeal of Judge Richard Young's decision was cancelled. This was so the appellate court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, could consider a motion by the State for the entire Court to hear the case rather than the usual three-judge panel. We will let you know as soon as we hear anything concerning scheduling.

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