Indiana same-sex marriages suspended while appeals play out

Federal appeals panel stops same-sex marriages in Indiana

A federal appeals panel has granted the Indiana attorney general's call for an emergency stay Friday on same-sex marriages.

The order came days after a lower court judge ruled in favor of three plaintiffs challenging Indiana's marriage laws.

The ruling sent dozens of same-sex couples racing to legally marry, with some couples arriving at the Marion County Clerk's office within 10 minutes of the decision.

But the attorney general's office asked for an immediate stay, and several counties have also refused to honor the ruling in recent days, according to a statement issued by Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office filed an appeal for the emergency stay in the 7th Circuit Court in Chicago on Friday, after appealing to the U.S. District Court in Indiana. The court granted the stay roughly two hours later, according to Corbin's statement.

Ken Falk, legal director for the ACLU of Indiana, told the Los Angeles Times that he believed the marriage licenses issued in the past three days would remain valid despite the 7th Circuit ruling on Friday.

"I believe the federal government has specifically held that marriages that were entered into prior to a stay are still valid," Falk said. 

Corbin said it's not clear if the licenses issued before the stay would remain valid, but a court could decide that later.

Falk told The Times the ruling was disheartening but not unexpected.

“We’re obviously disappointed; on the other hand, we understand what has happened in the other cases," he said. "I think we’re confident that ultimately the decision will be affirmed."

 In his statement, Corbin said the request for the emergency stay was to avoid legal confusion. With further appeals of the lower court ruling expected,  Corbin said same-sex marriages could be overturned at a later date.

"With no ruling issued yet by the district court either granting or denying the stay motion, confusion has ensued, with marriage licenses being granted at some county courthouses but not others," Corbin wrote. "The district court’s order took effect immediately Wednesday and gave the defendants no time to prepare or update licensing forms."

Falk did not know how many licenses had been issued in the state, but he said it was a "significant number." Nearly 600 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Marion County alone in the past three days, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana told The Times.

The case will be heard again in the 7th Circuit Court in September, Falk said.

Times staff writer Javier Panzar contributed to this report.

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5:59 p.m.: This post updated with an additional comment from the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

4:55 p.m.: This post updated with comments from the ACLU of Indiana and the state attorney general's Office.

This post published at 4:38 p.m.