Gay Chesterton couple fight for right to marry
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent April 3, 2014 10:30PM
Linda (Lyn) Judkins, left, and Bonnie Everly, of Chesterton want to marry legally in Indiana. | Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 5, 2014 8:21AM
CHESTERTON — Bonnie Everly and Linda (Lyn) Judkins already are married in their hearts, having stood on a beach in Michigan City, exchanging their vows to each other and God.
What the Chesterton couple want now is for the state of Indiana to eliminate its ban on same-sex marriage and allow them to legally wed in their church among family and friends.
They attend Metropolitan Community Church Illiana in Portage, which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Northwest Indiana.
“It won’t be a huge ceremony, just heartfelt and meaningful,” Bonnie, 56, said.
“It will be a magical day,” beamed Lyn, 58, who moved from Michigan in 2001 to be with Bonnie.
The couple are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed last month by Lambda Legal against Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the county clerks of Boone, Lake and Porter counties, seeking to end the prohibition on same-sex marriage. Efforts to get a statewide referendum on amending the Indiana Constitution to prohibit gay marriage failed this year.
Bonnie and Lyn, who met on a chat line and have been together for 13 years, live in rural Chesterton with Bonnie’s 21-year-old son and several cats and dogs. They said they tried to file for a marriage license at the old courthouse in Valparaiso on March 10 but were denied.
“The lady said, ‘I don’t think we do that in this state,’” Lyn recalled. “She was really nice, though.”
Porter County Clerk Karen Martin didn’t return several phone calls seeking comment on the lawsuit and the number of same-sex couples who have been turned away by the office.
Lambda Legal staff attorney Paul Castillo said the couples want to be married in Indiana because if they marry outside the state they would not be protected by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act should they return to Indiana and one spouse becomes ill.
“Same-sex couples that are in a loving relationship should be treated equally as any other couple,” said Castillo, who works for the Midwest regional office of Lambda Legal, a national civil rights organization serving the GLBT community.
Bonnie and Lyn are on Social Security disability as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident in 2002. Bonnie had a broken foot that didn’t heal right, and now needs to have both knees and both hips replaced. She walks with a cane and sleeps in a hospital bed.
The couple said they haven’t tried to marry in another state and don’t plan to move to one where their marriage would be legal.
“We could go to another state, but this is where our church is, this is where our friends are,” Lyn said. “I want my friend who plays the organ to play at our wedding. I want our minister to marry us.”