December 29, 2014

Three Counts Against Ex-Indiana Elections Chief Upheld

The defense attorney for former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White says he will keep fighting the voter fraud convictions that forced him from office.

A state appeals court issued a ruling Monday that upholds three felony convictions against White, while dismissing three other counts.
 
White's defense attorney says in a statement that White intends to exhaust all of his appeal options.
 
The court upheld White's convictions on perjury, voting in an incorrect precinct and theft.
 
Special prosecutor John Dowd tells The Associated Press that those charges were the most significant regarding White's conduct.
 
Those charges stemmed from White using his ex-wife's home in Fishers as his voting address in 2010 while serving on the Indianapolis suburb's town council and running for secretary of state.  


Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
October 15, 2014

Some Indiana Gay Marriages Could Be Invalid

The Indiana Attorney General's office says same-sex couples who married in the two days after the state's gay marriage ban was first struck down should confirm their marriages were properly recorded.

The Attorney General's office sent a memo to county clerks saying those couples faced unusual circumstances because same-sex marriages were allowed for a short time before a ruling against the ban was put on hold by a federal appeals court.

The Times of Munster reports those marriages might not be legally valid if couples didn't solemnize their marriage within 60 days of receiving a marriage license or the county clerks didn't record them within 3 days.
 
The office says those couples could obtain a new license and complete the necessary steps to avoid any uncertainty.
 


October 07, 2014

Indiana Clerks Must Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

The Indiana attorney general's office is telling all county clerks in the state that they must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The attorney general's office sent out the message Tuesday soon after the federal appeals court in Chicago formally lifted Indiana's gay marriage ban.
 
The appeals court action comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court said it wouldn't hear appeals from Indiana and four other states seeking to keep gay marriage bans in place.
 
Chief Deputy Attorney General Matt Light tells county clerks they can't deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples so long as they meet all other license requirements.


Same-sex couples involved in the lawsuit in Indiana appear at a news conference.
(Photo Courtesy: Indiana Public Broadcasting)
October 06, 2014

Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal In Indiana

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is reaffirming his commitment to traditional marriage but says he will follow the law regarding unions of same-sex couples. 

Pence said in a statement Monday that people are free to disagree over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reject an appeal of a ruling striking down Indiana's gay marriage ban, along with similar appeals in four other states. But he says people are not free to disobey the decision.  

County clerks in Indiana are beginning to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court's order.  

Pence urges Indiana residents to continue to demonstrate civility and ``respect the beliefs of all people in our state.''  

Meanwhile, supporters of same-sex marriage in Indiana say they are ``ecstatic'' about the ruling.

American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said Monday that the high court's decision not to hear the appeals means same-sex marriage ``is now a reality'' in Indiana.  

He says same-sex marriages can now legally resume in the state, but he expects it to take several days for many county clerks to begin issuing licenses.  

Falk spoke at a news conference Monday at ACLU-Indiana's office in Indianapolis. He was joined by same-sex couples who took part in the original lawsuit challenging Indiana's ban of their marriages.

Among them were Melody Betterman-Layne and her wife Tara, who were out shopping when they got a message from their attorneys, telling them their marriage was once again legal in their home state.  Tara says at first she was disappointed the Supreme Court didn’t issue a broader ruling for the whole country.  Melody says she was flabbergasted…but excited:

Organizations who have treated us unfairly because they could, because the state of Indiana said that was okay, will not be able to do that anymore – that’s what I’m crowing a little bit about inside today”, said Melody.

Hundreds of same-sex couples were married across the state after a federal judge struck down Indiana's s ban in June.  

The Indiana attorney general's office says it will communicate with county clerks to minimize chaos and confusion at local courthouses.  

Those on the other side of the same-sex marriage debate were disappointed by the Supreme Court's announcement.

American Family Association of Indiana executive director Micah Clark says it’s a bad day for Hoosier children:

“This is a strike at the truth that children need a mom and a dad, that marriage is a union of not just any two people but a union of the two sexes", said Clark.

But the Supreme Court did not issue a broad ruling for the country; it simply chose not to hear the cases before it, leaving other cases still in the federal court system in limbo.  Indiana Family Institute public policy director Ryan McCann says the issue is still an open question:

“I think you could still see the U-S Supreme Court act on this in the future", said McCann. "I just think it’s unworkable, the situation that we have now, where states are kind of left to not know exactly what the guidance is.”

Meanwhile, Missouri attorney general Chris Koster, announced Monday that he wouldn't appeal a Friday circuit court order that Missouri recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Two other same-sex marriage cases are pending in Missouri. One is a federal challenge in Kansas City, and the other is a St. Louis case that focuses on city officials who issued marriage licenses to four same-sex couples to trigger a legal test of the ban.  

    


Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is shown outside of the Senate Chamber following his farewell speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, D. C., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010.
September 12, 2014

Former Indiana Gov. Bayh Says No To 2016 Run

Democrat Evan Bayh says he won't make a run in 2016 for a return to the Indiana governor's office.

The former U.S. senator and two-term governor said in a statement Friday that he hoped his decision would enable others to step forward.
 
Bayh had previously said factors he was considering included the strong Republican hold on the state Legislature and whether his style of leadership would be effective.
 
The 59-year-old Bayh retired from the Senate in 2010 but still has nearly $10 million in his campaign fund. He was elected governor in 1988 and 1992.
 
His discussion of running governor had put other possible Democratic candidates in limbo, including former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg, who lost a narrow race to Republican Gov. Mike Pence in 2012.


September 09, 2014

Indiana Asks Supreme Court To Settle Gay Marriage

Indiana is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether gay marriage should be legal in all 50 states.

The state Attorney General's office on Tuesday asked the high court to reverse a ruling last week by the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which declared Indiana and Wisconsin's bans against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
 
Indiana says its case offers a perfect opportunity to settle the national debate once and for all.
 
Attorneys for gay rights group Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana say they will file separate responses within 24 hours.
 
The 7th Circuit last Thursday upheld a federal judge's decision that found Indiana's same-sex marriage ban violated the constitution.
 


September 04, 2014

Appeals Court Rules Against Gay Marriage Bans In Indiana, Wisconsin

 A U.S. appeals court in Chicago has ruled that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.  Thursday's decision bumps the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21.

Thursday's decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was unanimous.

The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after their attorneys general appealed separate lower court rulings in June tossing the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision.
 
During oral arguments in August, one judge appointed by a Republican likened same-sex marriage bans to laws once barring interracial marriage.

Judge Richard Posner said they derived from "hate ... and savage discrimination'' of gays.
 
The states argued the prohibitions helped foster a centuries-old tradition.

The ruling sent hundreds of Indiana couples flocking to clerks' offices across the state for marriage licenses, but those were halted when the appeals court granted a state request for a stay.
 
It wasn't immediately clear Thursday whether same-sex marriages would resume.
 
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana legal director Ken Falk says the organization is convinced Young's decision was correct but will wait to see what the next legal steps are.
 
The attorney general's office was reviewing the ruling.


August 20, 2014

Indiana Told To Honor Other States' Gay Marriages

A federal judge has ruled Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but says the ruling doesn't take effect until the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the matter.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young decided Indiana must recognize the marriage of Michelle and Shannon Bowling of Indianapolis, who were married in Polk County, Iowa, on Jan. 18, 2011.

Shannon Bowling is employed by the Indiana Department of Correction, and couple sued to seek state benefits for Michelle Bowling and her children from a previous relationship.
 
The 7th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments next week on the state's appeal of a previous ruling by Young throwing out Indiana's same-sex marriage ban.
 
The Indiana attorney general's office had no immediate comment on the latest ruling.


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