Indiana agrees that same-sex couple’s marriage license should be respected
September 12, 2014
Today, September 12, U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen allowed the state of Indiana to respect the marriage of Veronica Romero and Mayra Yvette Rivera, a same-sex couple who have been together for 27 years and live in Whiting, IN with their two children. The women worried that because Rivera has advanced ovarian cancer, if she were to pass away, Romero would not be respected as her lawful spouse, depsite their marriage license.
The couple's lawsuit named Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller; Indiana Health Commissioner William VanNess; and Lake County Clerk Michael A. Brown, who issues marriage licenses.
A joint stipulation was filed Wednesday in which Indiana agreed to recognize the couple's marriage and, in the event of Rivera's death, issue a death certificate listing her as married and recording Romero as the surviving spouse. The Indiana State Department of Health also agreed to assist local health departments, funeral homes, physicians, coroners and others involved in completion of a death certificate to understand their duties in the couple's case.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen on Thursday acknowledged the agreement and stayed the case while Indiana appeals a ruling overturning its gay marriage ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Our 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has previously made an exception to Indiana's existing statute and recognized a plaintiff’s out-of-state marriage under similar, difficult circumstances." Zoeller said on Thursday, referencing a decision in Baskin v. Bogan that required Indiana to respect the marriage of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney. "In this new case, the stipulation both sides filed mirrors the 7th Circuit’s earlier approach."
The agreement underscores the urgency of national resolution on marriage from the U.S. Supreme Court. Thousands of same-sex couples across the country are still denied the freedom to marry - or respect for their marriage from other states - and until the patchwork of marriage laws persists, real American families will continue to be hurt.