Federal judge to hear Indiana gay couple’s request

Kim Gillen, holds flowers for friends applying for a marriage license at the Oakland County Clerks office in Pontiac, Mich., Saturday, March 22, 2014. A federal judge has struck down Michigan's ban on gay marriage Friday the latest in a series of decisions overturning similar laws across the U.S. Some counties plan to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Saturday, less than 24 hours after a judge overturned Michigan's ban on gay marriage. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Kim Gillen, holds flowers for friends applying for a marriage license at the Oakland County Clerks office in Pontiac, Mich., Saturday, March 22, 2014. A federal judge has struck down Michigan's ban on gay marriage Friday the latest in a series of decisions overturning similar laws across the U.S. Some counties plan to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Saturday, less than 24 hours after a judge overturned Michigan's ban on gay marriage. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge has set a hearing in the case of a gay couple seeking to compel Indiana to recognize their legal marriage before one of the women, who is stricken with cancer, dies.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young said during a Friday teleconference with attorneys in the case that he’ll hold a hearing Thursday in his Evansville court on the couple’s request for a temporary restraining order, The Evansville Courier & Press reported.

Attorneys for the couple and the state will have the opportunity to make arguments at that hearing, said Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, whose office is defending the state’s gay marriage ban against several lawsuits.

Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler are seeking a temporary restraining order requiring Indiana to recognize their 2013 marriage in Massachusetts, one of 17 states where gay marriage is legal.

Quasney has stage 4 ovarian cancer and the Munster, Ind., couple wants Young to order the state to recognize their marriage in Quasney’s anticipated death certificate. The couple recently joined a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s marriage law that was filed last month by Lambda Legal, a national gay rights group.

That case is one of five federal lawsuits filed recently in Indiana on behalf of several Indiana same-sex couples.

In their federal complaint, the women argue that Indiana’s marriage law “encourages and invites private bias and discrimination, including in medical settings.”

Quasney and Sandler have been together 13 years and have two daughters, ages 1 and 2, conceived through “reproductive technology” and birthed by Sandler, according to their brief, which was filed Monday.

They argue that the court should grant a restraining order for the couple 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 said.

Although Indiana’s Legislature did not send a proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to a referendum this year, the state already bars gay marriage under a statue defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

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