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Munster couple happy, but still ‘work to be done’

Niki Quasney Amy Sandler Munster 2011 photo. | Sun-Times Medifile

Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler of Munster in 2011 photo. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: May 13, 2014 6:08AM



MUNSTER — Hours after a federal judge granted a temporary order Thursday that her marriage to Amy Sandler must be recognized by the state, Niki Quasney was counting her blessings and vowing to continue to fight for all couples who want the freedom to marry.

“We are happy, but we also know there is still work to be done. We are one of many couples who believe the freedom to marry in Indiana should be a right for every resident,” Quasney said.

But for right now, the 37-year-old Munster native just wants to appreciate the judge’s decision and “realize how lucky I am to be married to my soulmate through my own eyes but also through the eyes of Indiana.”

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young granted the couple’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep the state from enforcing its ban on gay marriage against them. The order will last for 28 days, when a hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled.

Their case is one of five in Young’s court, challenging Indiana’s prohibition. Thursday’s decision doesn’t affect the other lawsuits, and county clerks in Indiana are still prohibited by law from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Quasney and Sandler want Indiana to recognize their 2013 marriage in Massachusetts, one of 17 states where same-sex marriage is legal, before Quasney, who has Stage 4 ovarian cancer, dies. The couple have two young children, ages 3 and 1.

Sandler, 37, said she and Quasney were not at Thursday’s hearing but submitted declarations about their 13 years together.

“Niki and I have been through more than most young couples, but we have not let cancer or our lack of freedoms stop us from being true to ourselves, to our values and goals and to our children. We were very clear about that in our declarations,” Sandler said.

“We tried our best to convey our journey to the judge,” she said. “In my heart, I wondered how anyone could read our story and not feel that we deserve the freedom to have our marriage honored by the state of Indiana.”

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argued at the hearing that Indiana law “does not allow for hardship exceptions” to the gay marriage ban, said Bryan Corbin, Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s spokesman.

Still, Quasney and Sandler hope that the positive outcome of their hearing Thursday will lead to happy endings for other Hoosier couples, including Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins, of Chesterton, who are seeking to be legally married in the state.

Sandler said the impediments imposed by states that do not recognize the freedom to marry are becoming more and more clear as same-sex couples have the opportunity to share their hardships before the courts.

“When progress is made like it was (Thursday), the hope is that the momentum continues to move forward and the freedom to marry will be granted to all couples,” Quasney said. “We all have our reasons for wanting the freedom to marry, and I do not feel like my reasons are superior to anybody else’s. Equality for all people is the ultimate goal. I feel very lucky to be alive during such a pivotal time, not only in our state, but in our country.”



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