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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) in Indiana.

Part 9

2014-SEP-04: The path forward.
2014-OCT-06: Supreme Court legalizes SSM in
Indiana and later in 10 other states.
Religious pro-discrimination demonstration.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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In this essay "LGB" refers to Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals.
"SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.

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The path forward:

The state of Indiana has three options:

  1. The ruling of the panel could be accepted and applied.

  2. It might be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  3. It might be appealed "en blanc" -- to all the judges in the Court of Appeals who would later issue their own ruling, which could be appealed to the high court.

The first option was very unlikely. It would allow loving, committed same-sex couples to marry in Indiana and would recognize such marriages that have been solemnized in other states. Since the government of Indiana has committed extensive resources to avoid this outcome, it is unlikely that the state would willingly choose this path and accept marriage equality.

The second option is quite likely. The Supreme Court has the option of ignoring a lower court's appeal. Alternately, it can grant certiorari -- agree to accept the appeal. The deadline for requesting an appeal in 2014 was SEP-23. If an appeal is submitted on or before this date, then the court may announce acceptance the case(s) in 2014-DEC, hold hearings early in 2015, and issue their verdict in late 2015-JUN. If the appeal is submitted after SEP-23, then it the earliest date that a ruling could be made would be during 2016-MAR.

The third option is also unlikely. That would cause the 2014-SEP-23 deadline to be missed; it would delay the possible acceptance of the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by a year. By that time, the high court may have granted certiorari to one of more of cases recently appealed to it from Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia, and issued a country-wide ruling for or against marriage equality.

According to Reuters, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement saying that he will seek a stay of the ruling by the three-judge panel and will appeal their decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 1 This happened during 2014-SEP.

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2014-OCT-06: Surprise development: Marriage equality comes to Indiana with the stroke of a pen:

Indiana's appeal of the ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, along with similar appeals from four other states (OK, UT, VA, WI). This had the effect of making the Circuit Courts' ruling fixed and final. Marriage equality had come to all five states.

On OCT-07, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on same-sex marriages in Indiana.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R) and Governor Mark Pence (R) reluctantly acknowledged that the Supreme Court's decision had overturned Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages.

Mark Ahearn, Governor Pence's chief counsel, sent a message to state agencies stating that:

"Executive branch agencies are to recognize same-sex marriages in the same manner as they recognize heterosexual marriages."

As is very common among government officers, Ahearn confused the nature of opposite-sex marriages. Most consist of two heterosexuals. However, some involve one or two bisexuals.

Matt Light, Indiana's Chief Deputy Attorney General issued a message to the clerks in each of the state's 92 counties stating that they are:

"... prohibited from denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples so long as all other marriage license requirements are met." 2

Hundreds of same-sex couples in Indiana who had been married in the few days between the District Court's decision in June and the subsequent stay of that ruling suddenly found their marriages recognized by Indiana.

The marriages of an unknown number of same-sex couples who live in Indiana and who had previously been married in other states now have their marriages recognized by Indiana also .

Same-sex couples began obtaining marriage licenses starting on OCT-07, and couples began to marry. This was a painful defeat for most of the religious conservatives in the state who strongly oppose marriage equality. It brought much joy to the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the state and elsewhere in the U.S.

This decision by the Supreme Court will shortly bring same-sex marriage to six additional states: (CO, KS, NC, SC,WV,WY) who are under the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of Appeal affected by the Court's decision.

When all the changes are made, same-sex marriage will become available in 11 more states. This will make a total of 30 states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. 60% of Americans will live in locations where same-sex couples can marry. More details.

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2014-NOV-22: Demonstration against human rights laws:

The Indiana Pastors Alliance sponsored a rally at the state Capitol called: "The Stand." About 100 people rallied to protest the existence of anti-discrimination laws in cities, counties and states. 3 Commonly called "human rights laws," they are directed at for-profit companies that supply goods and services to the general public. They are legally referred to as "public accomodations." Typical public accomodations include retail stores, professional photographers, florists, companies that rent venues for marriage ceremonies, wedding receptions, group meetings, celebrations, etc. Human rights laws prohibit "for profit" groups from discriminating among potential customers on the basis of the latter's gender, religion, race, skin color, country of origin, etc. Some of these sets of human rights laws protect additional groups from discrimination. Examples are discrimination based on customers' sexual orientation or gender identity.

In essence, these laws require profit making companies to obey the Golden Rule: to require the owners and employees to treat customers as they would wish to be treated themselves. Unfortunately, the laws are rarely described or perceived in these terms.

The Golden Rule is commonly called the Ethic of Reciprocity, and is found in many different religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Wicca along with many secular philosophical systems.

Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) is recorded in the Bible as requiring his followers to follow the Golden Rule:

  • "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12, King James Version.

  • "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31, King James Version.

  • "...and don't do what you hate...", Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that were widely accepted among early Christians, but which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

If one were to apply the Golden Rule to for-profit companies involved in the "wedding industry," it is probable that the owners would like to be treated like any other customer when they go to a store. Thus, they should treat their customers in the same way.

"The Stand" was organized to demand that some for-profit public accomodations be exempt from following these human rights laws. The demonstration focused primarily at allowing companies run by Christian owners to be able to discriminate against engaged, same-sex couples who want to marry.

One example that had been heavily publicized recently involves The Hitching Post, a for-profit wedding chapel in the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Many conservative Christian information outlets incorrectly reported that the two owners of this company had been arrested, were in jail, might be subjected to fines accumulating at the rate of $1,000 a day, etc. In fact, none of this was true. No complaint had ever been filed against the company. In fact, the owners of this company are prepared to have same-sex wedding ceremonies in their facility, as long as the wedding is solemnized not by themselves, but by an outside officiant.

CNN commented that:

"Mega churches across the United States are becoming increasingly popular which is not only bringing thousands of worshippers together, but also billions of dollars in profit."

Scott Thumma, professor of sociology and religion at Hartford Seminary said that a:

"... mega church on average has about $6.5 million in income a year." 4

Chris Paulsen, president of Indiana Equality Action, said that the demonstrators are trying to blur the line between

  • Nonprofit churches, who can deny nuptial services under the separation of church and state clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, and

  • For-profit churches in places with non-discrimination clauses.

She said:

"If (for-profit) business owners are in a public setting, they should treat everyone equally. They wouldn't discriminate against other minorities, and they shouldn't discriminate against the LGBT community either."

One demonstrator, Joan Billman, of Greencastle, traveled to the Capitol to take part in the demonstration. She said:

"I wanted them to know that I'm standing with them."

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This appears to conclude the topic of same-sex marriage in Indiana

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above notes. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Lawrence Hurley, "U.S. court rejects gay-marriage bans as 'implausible'," Reuters, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  2. Tom Davies, "Idiana county clerks told to allow gay marriages," SFGate, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.sfgate.com/
  3. Steph Solis, "Pastors, churchgoers protest same-sex marriage policies," Indy Star, 2014-NOV-22, at: http://www.indystar.com/
  4. "Mega churches mean big business," CNN, 2010-JNA-21, at: http://www.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2014-SEP-06
Latest update: 2014-NOV-22
Author: B.A. Robinson
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