INDIANAPOLIS – A federal judge ruled that Indiana's law banning marriage for same-sex couples, as well as its ban on recognition of marriages between same-sex couples performed outside of the state, is unconstitutional. Today's ruling encompassed three separate cases: Baskin vs. Bogan, Fujii v. Governor, and Lee v. Pence.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the national ACLU, and the Lemieux Law Office of Indianapolis filed Fujii v. Governor on behalf of six couples, a widow, and two children of same-sex parents.
One of the plaintiffs, Midori Fujii, is a widow whose wife, Kris Brittain, died in 2011 after a two-year struggle with ovarian cancer. After Brittain's death, under Indiana law Midori was considered a legal stranger and could not make decisions about Brittain's funeral. Because their California marriage is not recognized in Indiana, Fujii was also required to pay more than $300,000 in state inheritance tax on all of the property that her wife left to her, including their shared home. If Fujii had been in an opposite-sex marriage she would have paid no inheritance tax on the property.
"Although Kris couldn't be here to see this day, I am so grateful that the state that we called home recognizes our relationship," said Fujii. "Nobody should have to contend with discrimination from their own government while mourning the loss of your wife."
The lawsuit was filed in March in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
"Thanks to the decision of Judge Young, Hoosier children no longer have to wait—with their mothers and fathers—for their families to be accorded the rights and dignity that only come with marriage," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. "Marriage is a commitment, declared privately and publicly, to love and honor and be responsible to and for each other. Same-sex couples want marriage, and finally it is possible in Indiana."
"Today is yet another victory in the fight to ensure that every couple has the freedom to marry," said Chase Strangio, staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. "Across the country, more and more courts are agreeing with the majority of Americans who believe that all families should have access to the protections and dignity that only marriage provides."