Mary (left) and Angela Williams are the first same-sex couple to pick up a marriage license in Porter County Wednesday following a federal judge's ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Staff photo by Bob Kasarda
Mary (left) and Angela Williams are the first same-sex couple to pick up a marriage license in Porter County Wednesday following a federal judge's ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Staff photo by Bob Kasarda
Highland residents Adam White and Eric Evans rushed into the Lake County building hours after a federal judge struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. 

They were ready to get married.

White, 29, and Evans, 32, were joined by their 13-month-old son as they became the first same-sex couple in Lake County to be legally married. The couple have been together for nearly 10 years since they met through mutual friends at the University of Illinois-Champagne.

White was studying at the Lake County Library in Schererville when a friend sent him a text message about the federal court's ruling. He sent a text message to Evans, who was at work in Merrillville, to ask if they should get married. Evans at first thought he was kidding, but before they knew it, they were rushing to get married before an appeal on the ruling was filed. 

As they filled out paperwork, Lake Clerk Mike Brown, a Democrat, came out to shake their hands. Court staff came out to peek at their son, Sawyer, who was preoccupied eating apple puffs and playing with a small penguin toy.

Lake County Deputy Clerk Rose Svetcoff apologized to the couple because many forms still had only a choice for a bride and groom.  

Lake County Judge John Pera married the couple just after 2 p.m. From outside the courtroom, Pera could be seen hugging the couple following the private ceremony. A woman sitting on the bench clapped for them as they walked back to the clerk's office. 

A federal judge struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage Wednesday in a ruling that immediately allowed gay couples to wed.

Valparaiso resident Mary Williams said she and her partner, Angela Williams, rushed to the county courthouse Wednesday after learning of the judge's decision.

"I got the message from a friend today and we wanted to hurry before there was an appeal," she said, with the couple's 2-year-old son, Michael, asleep in her arms.

They were the first same-sex couple to pick up a marriage license in Porter County after initially being stalled when told Clerk Karen Martin was researching the issue.

Martin later explained she wanted to make sure the computer system would accept filings from same-sex couples, which it did.

"Very exciting," Angela Williams said. "Shocking, never thought it would happen in Indiana."

The couple, who was rushing off to be married the same day, were first married in Florida in 2007 and were joined in a civil union in Illinois in 2011, which allowed them to take the same last name and give it to their child.

Marion County Clerk Beth White issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple Wednesday less an hour after a federal judge struck down Indiana's law banning same-sex marriage.

The Democrat said she was duty-bound to follow the judge's ruling and offered to immediately perform wedding ceremonies to couples making a $50 donation to the Indiana Youth Group, an Indianapolis social service organization that assists gay teenagers.

“Chief Judge Richard Young's decision on marriage equality sets forth a clear course of action for this office to follow regarding same-sex marriage licenses," White said. "The Clerk’s Office will be open until at least 4:30 p.m. this evening to issue licenses. All couples seeking a marriage license will be treated with dignity and respect."

The Indiana attorney general's office said it would appeal the ruling.

Spokesman Bryan Corbin says attorneys are still analyzing Judge Richard Young's Wednesday ruling and will advise county clerks on what procedures they should follow in its wake. Corbin says the state will "quickly" ask Young to stay his order pending appeal.

Indiana law has defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

The attorney general's office had argued the ban should be left intact. Attorneys for the state argued that the Legislature has legal authority to determine how marriage is defined within Indiana's borders.

The ruling involves lawsuits filed by several gay couples, who along with the state had asked for a summary judgment in the case. Young's ruling was mixed but generally sided with the couples and prevents the state from enforcing the ban.

"Indiana now joins the momentum for nationwide marriage equality and Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history," Lambda Legal, the national gay rights group that represented five of the couples, said in a statement.

The decision came the same day the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling overturning Utah's gay marriage ban, marking the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that states must allow gay marriage. That ruling puts the issue a step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A movement to ban gay marriage in the Indiana Constitution faltered during this legislative session when lawmakers removed language about civil unions from the proposed amendment. That means the soonest the issue could appear on a ballot would be 2016.

Times writers Dan Carden, Bob Kasarda and Elvia Malagon, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2020,, Munster, IN