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July 10, 2014

Governor to agencies: Ignore gay marriages

Three Cass couples plan to fight to have marriage licenses recorded

Three of the same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses in Cass County are facing an uphill battle after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ordered state agencies to act as if same-sex marriages solemnized in late June had never happened.

Melissa Harrison and Deborah Bowen, a lesbian couple who filed June 26 for a Cass County marriage license, along with two other couples who filed that day — Michael McCarty and John Klein, and Janelle Lesher and Diana Jones — have retained legal counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana after finding out their marriage license applications had not been entered into the statewide electronic database of completed marriage licenses.

“What we’re told is the clerk has kept our paperwork,” Harrison said. “We’re not even in the database saying that we ever got a marriage license.”

A federal judge in Indianapolis struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as unconstitutional on June 25, leading to hundreds of same-sex marriages around the state. But an appeals court stayed that ruling three days later after an appeal from the state attorney general’s office.

The memo from the governor’s chief counsel tells executive branch agencies to execute their functions as though the June 25 court order had not been issued, The Associated Press reports.

The Cass County Clerk’s Office fielded 10 marriage license applications from same-sex couples in the period between the court order and the appeals court’s stay. However, Cass County Clerk Beth Liming said she’s been instructed by the county attorney not to record them.

That has put Harrison and Bowen into legal limbo with respect to insurance, some taxes and other federal benefits, she said.

“In Indy, the ones that are married, are married,” Harrison said, referring to same-sex couples whose marriage licenses were fully processed through the Marion County Clerk’s Office. “We have nothing.”

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