A federal judge has extended a temporary injunction of Indiana’s ban on same-sex nuptials, compelling state officials to continue recognizing the marriage of two women, one of whom is battling terminal cancer.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young granted an extension of an earlier order which made Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney the first legally married same-sex couple in the Hoosier State. The two wed last year in Massachusetts, but sued to have their union recognized in Indiana, where they live, so that Sandler could access the full trove of federal and state benefits for surviving spouses and have her name on Quasney’s death certificate. In 2009, Quasney was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which is now at stage 4.
On April 10, Judge Young granted a temporary restraining order against Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, only as it applied to Quasney and Sandler. The injunction was originally slated to expire May 8, but Young’s decided Thursday to prolong it throughout their court proceedings. Quasney and Sandler continue to be the sole couple affected by his actions.
"We are so relieved," Quasney said in a statement from Lambda Legal, as reported by the Associated Press. "We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other. Our time together and with our daughters is the most important thing in the world to me. I look forward to the day when all couples in Indiana have the freedom to marry."
The Indiana attorney general's office said it would appeal.
Last week, lawyers were back in Young’s chambers arguing the case, Baskin v. Bogan, which was filed by Lambda Legal in March on behalf of five same-sex couples, including Quasney and Sandler. Both sides asked Judge Young for a permanent resolution in the case, but were told they’d have to wait. Young had reserved judgment.
Plaintiffs sought to extend marriage rights not just for Quasney and Sandler, but for all same-sex couples in Indiana. Attorneys for the state argued that there were other ways for Sandler to secure property benefits and that the legislature had the legal authority to determine how the state defines marriage.
Indiana is one of four states that prohibits gay couples from marrying by statutory provision. The state legislature has proposed or voted on an amendment to enshrine the ban in Indiana’s constitution every year since 2004. State lawmakers succeeded on that front in 2011, but they would have to approve an identical version of the amendment again before it could be put to voters. That effort failed earlier this year.