posttrib
PICTURESQUE 
Weather Updates

Munster couple’s marriage request granted

Amy Sandler left Niki Quasney joined lawsuit over turn Indiana's ban same-sex marraige. | Phoprovided

Amy Sandler, left, and Niki Quasney joined a lawsuit to over turn Indiana's ban on same-sex marraige. | Photo provided

storyidforme: 64785622
tmspicid: 23082598
fileheaderid: 11223685

Updated: May 12, 2014 6:26AM



EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A federal judge has ruled that the state must recognize the marriage of a gay couple from Munster before one of the women, who has cancer, dies.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young on Thursday granted Niki Quasney’s and Amy Sandler’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from enforcing its ban on gay marriages against the couple, according to the Indiana attorney general’s office.

“We are so relieved. We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other,” Quasney said in a news release from Lambda Legal, which represented the couple in their legal challenge. “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.”

Quasney and Sandler wanted Indiana to recognize their 2013 marriage in Massachusetts, one of 17 states where gay marriage is legal. Their case is one of five in Young’s court challenging Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban.

Quasney has Stage 4 ovarian cancer, and the couple wanted Young to order the state to recognize their marriage in Quasney’s anticipated death certificate.

The state must recognize their marriage immediately, said Paul Castillo, staff attorney for Lambda Legal.

“We’re greatly relieved for Amy, Niki and their two young children. They are a loving family coping with a terminal illness,” he said. “The state of Indiana has no justification for denying them dignity, legitimacy and respect as a family during this inexpressibly difficult time.

“They’re married, they love each other, and they are doing their best to protect their family,” said Castillo, who pointed out that a local hospital defers to state law to determine whether a couple is validly married. “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.”

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argued that Indiana’s current law “does not allow for hardship exceptions,” attorney general’s spokesman Bryan Corbin said in a statement after the ruling.

The judge’s decision doesn’t affect other lawsuits challenging Indiana’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. The order will last for 28 days, when a preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled.

“County clerks still are prohibited by law from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Corbin said.

Quasney and Sandler have been together 13 years and have two daughters, ages 1 and 3, conceived through “reproductive technology” and birthed by Sandler, according to their legal brief, which was filed March 31. It says they sought the court order because “they have an urgent need to have their marriage recognized” due to Quasney’s terminal illness.

“When Niki dies, Amy will receive a death certificate from the state that records Niki as unmarried — which will interfere with Amy’s ability to take care of Niki’s affairs after her death and to access the safety net generally available to a surviving spouse and a decedent’s children,” the brief says.

The Indiana Legislature did not approve holding a referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, but the state already bars gay marriage under a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Contributing: AP



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.