A challenge to Indiana's law banning same-sex marriages heads to court Monday. A Marion superior court judge is expected to hear a state request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The lawsuit, filed in August 2002 by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three same-sex couples, is the first major effort to win full legal recognition for same-sex couples in Indiana.
Challenging Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages are Teresa Stephens and Ruth Morrison of Indianapolis; David Wene and David Squire of Indianapolis, who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000; and Charlotte Egler and Dawn Egler of Hendricks County, who also had a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2000.
Supporters of such efforts say same-sex couples should have the same rights and protections enjoyed by married heterosexual couples and their families. Opponents, whose case will be argued by the Indiana attorney general's office, see the challenge as an assault on marriage and the traditional family and say striking down the same-sex prohibition could undermine the general assembly's ability to prohibit other forms of marriage, such as polygamy.
The outcome of today's debate will be closely watched nationally. Indiana's lawsuit is one of three pending challenges to state bans on same-sex marriages. Similar suits have been filed in New Jersey and Massachusetts. No states grant same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by married heterosexual partners, although a few offer some rights and protections. Thirty-seven states, including Indiana, have passed laws expressly prohibiting same-sex marriages. Indiana also refuses to recognize same-sex
marriages that may someday be conducted legally in other states.