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Fed judge recognizes an IN lesbian marriage

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By Jacob Rund

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young ruled Thursday that a same-sex couple's marriage is legal - at least temporarily.

The case, Baskin v. Bogan, addressed end-of-life issues facing a lesbian couple from southern Indiana.

Plaintiffs Nikole Quasney and Amy Sandler, represented by the law firm Lambda Legal, requested the case be heard on an emergency basis due to Quasney's battle with terminal ovarian cancer.

Thursday's ruling provides the couple with a 28-day restraining order, instructing the state to temporarily recognize their out-of-state marriage.

In 2013, Quasney and Sandler were legally married in the state of Massachusetts. However, Indiana law does not currently recognize same-sex marriages and withholds from those couples certain rights given to married heterosexual couples.

Under the law, Sandler would have limited visitation rights if Quasney were to be hospitalized. Also, if Quasney were to pass away, Sandler would not be recognized as her primary beneficiary - creating financial complications for Sandler and the couple's two children.

"They're married, they love each other and they are doing their best to protect their family," Paul Castillo, staff attorney for Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "The local hospital defers to state law to determine whether a couple is validly married, and Niki worries that she won't be able to be with Amy when it counts. Niki also wants to make sure Amy has the protections of a surviving spouse under Indiana law."

Due to their newly obtained restraining order, the couple would be granted - during the 28-day period - the same end-of-life privileges given to heterosexual couples in Indiana.

According to the Evansville Courier & Press, Young also questioned the constitutionality of Indiana's marriage law.

"The courts finds, as applied to (Quasney and Sandler), Indiana's law, which prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized, likely violates the United States Constitution's equal protection clause and due process clause," Young said.

A written order had not been issued by late Thursday afternoon.

According to the Attorney General's office, five legal challenges to the marriage statute are assigned to Young.

Young's ruling Thursday only applies to Quasney and Sandler and does not affect the marriage status of any other same-sex Hoosier couple.

"County clerks in Indiana will be notified that there is no change in legal requirements for granting marriage licenses as a result of this TRO. County clerks still are prohibited by law from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples," the Attorney General's office said in a statement.

The office also stated that the "temporary restraining order is in effect only until May 8 and the court will schedule a preliminary injunction hearing soon on the plaintiffs' request to extend the order indefinitely."

"We are so relieved. We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other," Quasney said in a statement released by Lambda Legal. "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."

Jacob Rund is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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