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Both sides in same-sex marriage ready for next round

Pam Eanes Dawn Carver | Phoprovided

Pam Eanes and Dawn Carver | Photo provided

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Timeline

MARCH 10: Baskin v. Bogan was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The suit was filed on behalf of three couples, including Pam Eanes and Dawn Carver of Munster and Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins of Chesterton.

MARCH 31: A motion was filed in federal court seeking immediate relief from Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage for Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, a lesbian couple living in Munster, and their two children. Quasney was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and lawyers say she couldn’t wait for the protections of marriage.

APRIL 10: U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young grants a temporary restraining order to keep the state from enforcing its ban on gay marriage against Sandler and Quasney for at least 28 days.

MAY 8: Young rules that the state must continue to recognize the 2013 marriage of Quasney and Sandler throughout the court proceedings involving Baskin v. Bogan. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller appeals that ruling that night, saying that while the office sympathizes with the couple, law does not allow for hardship exceptions.

JUNE 25: Young rules that Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Couples across the state rush to get married at their local clerk’s offices.

JUNE 27: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals grants Zoeller’s emergency motion to stay the judge’s ruling and consolidates Baskin v. Bogan with two other marriage cases in Indiana — Lee v. Abbott and Fujii v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Revenue. Marriages of same-sex couples halts.

JULY 1: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issues an order compelling the State of Indiana to continue to recognize the marriage of Sandler and Quasney while the case proceeds.

AUG. 26: The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Baskin v. Bogan as well as the Wisconsin case Wolf v. Walker.

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Updated: August 24, 2014 10:43AM



Pam Eanes and Dawn Carver are excited and optimistic.

Lyn Judkins and Bonnie Everly are just plain giddy.

Both lesbian couples from Northwest Indiana are eagerly awaiting Tuesday morning, when they’ll be in Chicago as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in a case that could determine if they can legally marry in Indiana.

Eanes and Carver, of Munster, and Judkins and Everly, of Chesterton, are plaintiffs in the case, Bogan v. Baskin, which challenges Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A panel of three federal judges will hear a similar case from Wisconsin, Wolf v. Walker, on Tuesday.

Pastor Ron Johnson Jr., meanwhile, will be watching the proceedings with keen interest. The senior pastor of Living Stones Church in Crown Point and executive director of the Indiana Pastors Alliance, is opposed to gay marriage and believes the issue should be decided by referendum, not the courts.

Caravans and buses of supporters for gay marriage from Indiana and Wisconsin are expected to arrive in Chicago for the hearing and a rally is scheduled Monday night, according to a spokesman for Lambda Legal, a national organization that defends the rights of gay people and which filed the Bogan v. Baskin case.

While it’s unlikely that the court will rule from the bench on Tuesday, and many believe the issue ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, the couples’ optimism is fueled by recent victories in other states, support from their families, friends and, according to polls, a growing number of Hoosiers.

“I’m pretty excited. The trend has been going toward marriage equality,” Carver said.

Camilla Taylor, project director for Lambda Legal, pointed out that since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down federal law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman in June 2013, a number of courts have struck down state bans on gay marriage and appeals have been won in at least two circuit appeals courts in other states.

“It’s been a remarkable year,” she said. “I’m very optimistic going into Tuesday.”

Couples optimistic

Eanes and Carver have been together for 17 years, are in a civil union from Illinois and have two children, both in their 20s.

They’re also both first responders, putting them at higher risk of being injured than others, and making it especially important to be legally married to ensure they receive the same rights and protections as other married couples, according to Lambda Legal.

Carver, 41, is a patrol officer for the Oak Park, Illinois, Police Department and Eanes, 50, is a captain in the Calumet City, Illinois, Fire Department.

The couple are optimistic going into Tuesday’s hearing and comforted by the fact that friends, family and co-workers support them. Their spirits were lifted further by a recent showing of support for their cause from other first responders.

A spokeswoman for gay marriage supporters said Monday that more than 100 police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers have signed a legal brief to be filed Tuesday with the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals. The first responders argue Indiana provides financial help and other resources to families of heterosexual colleagues who fall in the line of duty, but not to families of gay first responders.

“It’s incredible. It positively makes you feel good to know co-workers are standing beside you,” Carver said.

“Everyone who knows Dawn and I as being together want us to have the same rights as other married couples,” Eanes said.

This will be the first hearing that Eanes and Carver will be attending, although they’ve been keeping abreast of all the previous decisions through Lambda Legal.

Eanes said the last few months have been an emotional roller coaster, with victories in court followed by appeals from the state.

“We were so excited when we won in Indiana. Lambda Legal sent us a text right away. Equality felt so good,” Eanes said.

“But they also told us to be prepared for a possible appeal,” she said.

Judkins, 57, and Everly, 56, traveled to Evansville for a previous hearing and will drive to Chicago for both the rally and the hearing. If the case ends up in the Supreme Court, they’ll be there, too.

They were giddy with excitement this week as they prepared for the trip.

“How are we supposed to sleep before Monday,” asked Judkins, who pointed out the trip would mark a number of firsts for the Chesterton couple.

Not only could the hearing determine that the couple could legally marry after 13 years together, it would be the first time the couple is staying overnight in Chicago and the first time Judkins is driving there. She said Everly has too many medical supplies to take the train.

“You have to be optimistic. You have to have high hopes,” Judkins said.

“It’s all about our rights,” added Everly.

The couple believe more people in Indiana are changing their minds about gay marriage; it’s the elected officials in the state who are holding on to the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Neither Eanes and Carver nor Judkins and Everly were married in the couple of days it was legal in Indiana, preferring to wait until they know it won’t be appealed and they can celebrate their marriage with family and friends.

“I’m handicapped and can’t run, but by God I will get married to Lyn before I die,” Everly said.

Religious or civil issue

Everly said gay marriage is a civil argument, not a religious one. Johnson, of Living Stones Church, disagrees.

The pastor also wonders if there is a momentum of support for gay marriage, or just an appearance of one sparked by a few judges and a liberal media.

“Most of the decisions are coming from a judge, not from legislators or a referendum. We are a country of we the people, not rogue judges,” Johnson said.

“The best poll is a referendum,” he said.

Johnson said he believes the decision on gay marriage will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, like another landmark decision, Roe v. Wade.

Johnson said the church defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

“We want to work to strengthen marriages, and you don’t do that by telling a man he’s unnecessary.

That’s foolish. It’s not a message you should be sending to a fatherless generation,” Johnson said.

Everly said she and Judkins go to church every Sunday and she’s yet to read in the Bible that she’ll go to hell for wanting to marry Judkins.

“God knows I love him,” Everly said.



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