Friday, Lambda Legal asked a federal court to compel the State of Indiana to continue to recognize the marriage of a lesbian couple from Munster, as well as to extend the freedom to marry to all Indiana same-sex couples.
Friday’s oral arguments in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana were the latest chapter in Baskin v. Bogan, the federal lawsuit Lambda Legal has filed on behalf of five Indiana same-sex couples seeking to overturn Indiana’s discriminatory marriage ban. Early last month, Lambda Legal filed an emergency motion in the case on behalf of Amy Sandler, Niki Quasney and their two children seeking immediate relief from the marriage ban as Quasney has stage four ovarian cancer. The Court granted the emergency order on April 10, making Sandler and Quasney the first legally married same-sex couple in Indiana. The emergency order expires May 8.
“The court needs to act now to preserve recognition of the marriage of Amy and Niki, as well as to extend the freedom to marry to all Indiana same-sex couples burdened by the State’s discriminatory marriage ban,” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “Ms. Quasney wants to be recognized as married in her home state while she is still alive, and Indiana has no justification whatsoever for denying them dignity and respect as a family during this extremely difficult time. Ms. Quasney has stage four ovarian cancer, and her wife Ms. Sandler and their two children should be able to focus on being together, not facing unjustifiable discrimination. And while this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the State’s discriminatory marriage ban. Indiana families shouldn’t have to wait any longer for the freedom to marry.”
The case was filed on March 10, 2014 in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. Lambda Legal later filed a motion seeking immediate relief for Quasney, Sandler and their two children, ages 3 and 1. Almost five years ago, Quasney was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, having more than 100 tumors removed surgically in 2009, and has since gone through years of chemotherapy. They have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts in 2013 but need their marriage to be legally recognized in Indiana to receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives.
On April 10, the court granted a Temporary Restraining Order ordering Indiana to recognize their legal marriage. Friday’s oral argument sought to have Indiana continue to recognize Sandler and Quasney’s marriage beyond the May 8 expiration date. In Friday’s court hearing, Lambda Legal also argued to have Indiana grant the freedom to marry to all Indiana same-sex couples.
“I am doing everything I can to protect Amy and our two children from discrimination – my children shouldn’t have to grow up being treated as inferior to children from other families,” Quasney said. “We are not asking for special privileges. We should have the same freedoms as other married Indiana couples.”
Read more about the families and the entire case here.
Joining Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Camilla Taylor in arguing the case are Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul Castillo, Barbara Baird of the Law Office of Barbara J. Baird in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Jordan Heinz, Brent Ray, Dmitriy Tishyevich, and Robyn English of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.