Same-sex marriage bans are falling all over the country; however, their marriage licenses may become certificates of doubt. Tippecanoe County in Indiana had a problem with same-sex marriage ceremonies on Thursday, June 26, no valid marriage licenses. Though the county is authorized to perform the ceremony, the county only had forms stating husband and wife for persons to fill out on the form. Many other counties had already begun issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Tippecanoe County was moving slightly slower even though U.S. District Judge Richard Young released his decision that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday.
Doug Masson, County Attorney, advised against issuing any license in order for him to thoroughly read the decision. Christa Coffey, County Clerk, stated she could not alter the marriage license without authorization, as it was a state document. Many people in the courthouse waiting for word of available documents were becoming discouraged at the slowness of the county’s machinery for obtaining legal licenses.
The county could not issue a makeshift document but had to wait for the state to email copies to the clerk with proper listings on the form. By 9:30 a.m., the waiting had come to a joyful end and couples, friends of the couples and close family members were shouting and clapping at the news of the forms being available.
A long line formed at the clerk’s window and the paper work began in earnest. At the close of the day, 27 same-sex marriage licenses had been issued. The first couple in line Daniel Peo and Douglas Taylor, with certificate in hand walked to the rotunda. Matt Hicks officiated the ceremony, the media recorded the event while family and friends participated in the county’s first same-sex wedding. However, the legal period for which their same-sex marriage certificates were issued may be questionable and in doubt.
Another legal roadblock has been interjected in court. An appeals court put a hold on same-sex marriage by issuing a stay Friday, June 27, and now no one knows how long it will be before the problem is solved and traffic into courtrooms for same-sex marriage licenses will begin again. In Indiana, the problem is whether or not those couples who were married before the ban was effective and will be recognized as legally married.
The definition of marriage in Indiana is between one man and one woman. Marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states are not recognized as legal for same-sex couples who live in Indiana. Professor Jennifer Drobac, at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law, specializes in legal issues concerning sexual orientation, and she was not optimistic for same-sex couples who took advantage of the three-day window of opportunity they enjoyed earlier this week.
Drobac stated it is her belief the appellate court will find the ban unconstitutional eventually, just as other courts have done, which means the same-sex marriages in Indiana will be recognized. Meanwhile, those couples who have Indiana same-sex marriage licenses are in a zone of doubt.
The total number of licenses issued in the Hoosier state is in the hundreds and there are hundreds of couples who have already taken the plunge. Indiana is not alone in this area of appeals and bans, other states are facing the same issues. Same-sex marriage is being accepted more and more in this country by the populace, but legal battles place these certificates in an arena of doubt and emotional turmoil for the couples waiting in courtroom halls.
By Andy Towle