At a February speech to the Indianapolis chapter of The Federalist Society, Zoeller was sharply critical of attorneys general in other states who have refused to defend their state’s same-sex marriage bans. Zoeller called it a “dereliction of duty.”
In a statement emailed Friday evening, Kara Brooks, Pence’s press secretary said, “Gov. Pence supports Indiana’s marriage law, and he will fully cooperate with the attorney general as he defends Indiana’s law in court.”
The lawsuit comes after a divisive debate in the Indiana General Assembly over a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. Supporters of the effort argued Indiana’s current law banning same-sex unions needed to be enshrined in the state constitution to keep what they called “activist judges” from overturning the state law.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly voted for the measure, but only after the wording was changed to exclude civil unions from the ban. The change in language postpones any public vote on the issue until at least 2016.
Even had the measure gone to voters and passed, the state amendment would only cover state courts. It would not have prevented a lawsuit challenging the state marriage-ban law from being filed in federal court.
Also, an amended bill passed this week by the Indiana Senate — which differs from federal law — would continue to allow the state to not recognize same-sex marriages for tax purposes.
This means that same-sex couples with legal marriages in other states must file state taxes separately, even if federal taxes are filed jointly. Without the changes to the bill, Indiana could have adopted a new Internal Revenue Service policy giving same-sex marriages equal privileges in tax filings. Supporters say the change was necessary to match Indiana’s ban on gay marriage, while opponents say it’s another instance of discrimination against same-sex couples by the Legislature.
The House has already passed the broader tax bill. Because it was amended in the Senate, it will now go to a conference committee.
— Maureen Hayden, CNHI Statehouse Bureau, contributed to this report.
THE PLAINTIFFS The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: • Melissa Love and Erin Brock, Jeffersonville • Michael Drury and Lane Stumler, New Albany • Jo Ann Dale and Carol Uebelhoer, Otisco • Jennifer Redmond and Jana Kohorst, Jeffersonville