Anthony Duron (left) and spouse Mark Rainwater, both of Portage, made their civil union official Friday morning at the Porter County Courthouse. By Friday evening, the two were left unsure of their relationship's legal status. | Photo provided
Anthony Duron (left) and spouse Mark Rainwater, both of Portage, made their civil union official Friday morning at the Porter County Courthouse. By Friday evening, the two were left unsure of their relationship's legal status. | Photo provided

Post-Tribune Staff and Wire Reports

A representative of Lambda Legal, the group that filed suit challenging Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban, said justice will win out after a federal appeals court in Chicago on Friday put on hold a judge’s order striking down Indiana’s gay marriage ban.

Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project director for Lambda Legal, which filed the lawsuit seeking to abolish Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages, said the emergency order also prevents continued recognition of the marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler of Munster. The couple, who were legally married in Massachusetts, were granted emergency relief early in the case because Quasney, 38, is battling Stage IV ovarian cancer.

“It is wrong to block the marriages of all couples and it’s a shameful display of cruelty towards Niki and Amy and their two children, whose marriage is vital as they battle an aggressive cancer and fight to be together,” Taylor said.

“(Indiana Attorney General) Greg Zoeller will not have the last word, justice will,” she said.

Quasney and Sandler couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In Chesterton, Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins, who were also part of the Lambda Legal lawsuit, said they are not giving up the fight and will continue making marriage plans.

“We’re just going to hope we can get through this one more time,” Everly said. “We want to be thought of as a family, not just a same-sex family.”

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued the order two days after U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

State attorneys had asked for a stay of Young’s ruling while it appeals. The attorney general’s office argued it was premature to require Indiana to change its definition of marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the issue as is widely expected.

The threat of the stay is the reason Eric Evans and his husband, Adam White, went Wednesday to the Lake County Government Complex in Crown Point as soon as they heard the ban had been lifted. Evans and White were the first same-sex couple in Lake County to get married.

Evans said a friend texted him late Friday afternoon about the stay. He said he did not know what it would mean for couples who married Wednesday and Thursday. Still, he hated hearing the news.

“It was such a short few days, and it’s so sad for those who didn’t get the chance,” Evans said Friday. “Knowing the politics of Indiana, it’s unfortunate that all these people are going to be discriminated against until this is worked out.”

In staying Young’s order requiring the state to allow same-sex marriages, the appeals court followed the lead of courts across the country, which have granted stays of similar rulings at either the district or appellate level until appeals can decide the issue.

Indiana law defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the state has refused to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it is legal. Young wrote in his ruling that such restrictions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and noted that courts across the country have agreed.

“In time, Americans will look at marriages of couples such as Plaintiffs, and simply refer to it as a marriage — not a same-sex marriage,” he wrote. “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands we treat them as such.”

Mike Brown, Lake County’s recorder, said the news about the stay was “disheartening.” He said he cannot understand why some people would want to deny others the right to be happy.

“I witnessed the first gay marriage in Lake County and it was a beautiful thing. The room was full of love. It was a happy place,” Brown said.

He was happy to record the licenses of those first couples and said couples planning to wed next week and beyond have for now missed their window of opportunity.

“It really just took the air out of my sails,” Brown said, adding he is bothered by the pleasure and joy demonstrated by those celebrating the stay.

“What joy do you get out of this?” Brown said.

He questioned what those opposed to gay marriage expected would happen once Indiana began allowing same sex couples to wed.

“Obviously, nothing happened in the 24 hours gay marriage was legal. Nothing in your life changed.”

Young’s ruling allowed same-sex couples to file joint tax returns, receive pension benefits and have their partners listed as spouses on death certificates.

How the stay will affect them remains to be seen. Legal experts say couples may need to enlist legal help to sort through the process.

Anthony Duron and his husband, Mark Rainwater, were in the Porter County Courthouse parking lot at 8 a.m. Friday waiting for the doors to open.

Married in a civil ceremony two years ago, the Portage couple consider themselves married already. Nevertheless, they wanted to “make it legal.”

By 9 a.m., Duron and Rainwater were officially married. But by 7 p.m., what was supposed to be the perfect day was tarnished slightly by uncertainty.

“My stomach was in knots this morning,” Duron said “What if the stay was in place? What if the judge wasn’t available?”

Judge Mary Harper performed their ceremony and was as “sweet as could be,” given her tough reputation, Duron said. She seemed optimistic that the stay would be lifted given the precedence in other states but Duron remained frustrated.

“I don’t know what this all means, but I just keep asking, ‘Why? Why not just let it be?’ ” he said.

Contributing: Amy Lavalley, Carrie Napoleon, Karen Caffarini and Michelle L. Quinn