Indiana same-sex marriage ban debated in appeals court

Written By BY KAREN CAFFARINI Sun-Times Media Posted: 08/26/2014, 07:18pm
Array Lyn Judkins and Bonnie Everly, of Chesterton, are optimistic after Tuesday's oral arguments before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. | Karen Caffarini/For Sun-Times Media

CHICAGO — Two lesbian couples from Northwest Indiana were optimistic Tuesday that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold a decision calling for Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages after the presiding judge repeatedly asked if the children of gay couples wouldn’t be better off if their parents were married.

“I’m feeling very optimistic,” said Lyn Judkins of Chesterton.

“It sounded positive,” added her partner, Bonnie Everly.

The court heard oral arguments in cases about banning same-sex marriages in both Indiana and Wisconsin in a courtroom overflowing with same-sex marriage supporters, including Judkins and Everly and Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler, of Munster. The two couples are plaintiffs in one of several lawsuits heard, Baskin v. Bogan.

Both states argued in favor of marriage between one man and one woman.

Presiding judge Richard Posner questioned Indiana’s argument that it needs to protect the children born unintentionally.

He said gay people in Indiana have adopted 3,000 children, many of whom probably were born unintentionally.

“Why do you want children of same-sex couples to be worse off? You allow homosexuals to adopt, why not allow them to have the same benefits?” Posner asked Thomas M. Fisher, the attorney representing Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

“If we redefine marriage I don’t know what we would be left with,” Fisher said.

When Posner asked Fisher if the children wouldn’t be better off if their gay parents married, Fisher said he couldn’t answer that.

Posner also downplayed the argument of traditional marriage.

“You could make the same argument about what would happen if men stopped shaking hands. It would be the end of a nation, right?” he said.

Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal arguing for the Indiana plaintiffs in Baskin v. Bogan, said after the hearing that all three judges on the panel were extremely troubled by the negative effect the states’ laws have on families of gay couples.

“Justifiably, it was hard to follow. The states’ arguments made no sense,” she said.

Quasney and Sandler attended the hearing although the court already ruled Indiana must recognize their Massachusetts marriage because medical reasons. Quasney has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“I feel optimistic. Our attorneys did a great job,” Sandler said.

She said the couple still can’t obtain homeowners and car insurance despite being legally married, because the insurance representative told them that Indiana only recognizes spouses that are of the opposite sex when they apply jointly. She said they could have called a different company, but they just want to focus on themselves and their two young children at this time.

Everly said she wanted to cheer Posner but needed to contain herself.

“He asked some pretty straightforward questions,” Everly said. “People have babies they don’t want. We adopt babies they don’t want. The state entrusts the babies to us, but with no benefits.

“I don’t think it will take long for the judges to make a decision,” Everly said.

Taylor said decisions by the Circuit Court of Appeals can take more than a year.

“I don’t think that will happen in this case. I think we’ll get a decision much sooner,” Taylor said.

Attorneys expect the matter to eventually be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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