Indiana couple

A federal appellate court ordered the state of Indiana to recognize the marriage of Amy Sandler, left, and Niki Quasney despite a decision last week to suspend gay marriages in Indiana. (Courtesy Starbelly Studios/Lambda Legal / July 1, 2014)

Just days after a federal appeals court issued an emergency order stopping gay marriages in Indiana, the same appellate panel ordered the state to legally recognize a marriage between two women as one of them battles ovarian cancer, according to court filings.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state to lift its emergency stay in the case of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney. The couple has a civil union in Illinois and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2013, but required the legal protections a marriage allows under the law in Indiana, according to a news release from Lambda Legal, the advocacy group that filed a motion on their behalf.

“It is time for the state of Indiana to leave Niki and Amy in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds,” Paul D. Castillo, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal, said in a statement.  

Quasney was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in 2009 and has gone through years of chemotherapy since then, according to the release.

A lower court judge found Indiana's marriage laws unconstitutional last week, sending gay couples racing to attain their marriage licenses in the days that followed the ruling.

But Friday, the Indiana Attorney General's Office filed an emergency motion asking for the marriages to be stopped while an appeals process played out. The 7th Circuit Court granted the order, and it remains unclear whether the licenses issued before the stay will be considered legal.

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