Four Indiana same-sex couples filed suit against the state on Friday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] seeking to strike down the state's Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The act declares same-sex marriages void for purposes of state law, even if they were lawfully solemnized in another state. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller [official website] announced his office's intent [press release] to defend the law. Zoeller noted:
As Indiana's Attorney General I will represent our state and defend our statute now and on any appeal to the best of my skill and ability, as I swore an oath to do. As state government’s lawyer, I must defend the state's authority to define marriage at the state level within Indiana's borders. People of goodwill have sincere differences of opinion on the marriage definition, but I hope Hoosiers can remain civil to each other as this legal question is litigated in the federal court.Two of the couples bringing suit wish to have their marriages that were performed in other states recognized by Indiana [Indy Star report], while the other two are not married yet but would like to get married in the state.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community, with legal challenges currently before numerous state and federal courts. Earlier this month four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Wyoming state court [JURIST report] challenging the constitutionality of the state's restriction of marriage to one man and one woman. Also in March Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan encouraged county clerks statewide to begin issuing marriage licenses [JURIST report] to same-sex couples. During the same timeframe a judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin refused to block the state's ban on same-sex marriage [JURIST report] pending outcome of a trial. In March Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said that the state will hire outside counsel [JURIST report] to appeal a federal judge's order to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.