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May 9, 2014

Indiana asks judge to stay gay marriage ruling

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has asked a federal judge to stay his order requiring it to recognize the out-of-state marriage of a lesbian couple in which one woman is terminally ill, saying that the ruling could raise false hopes for other same-sex couples.

State attorneys also filed a formal notice of appeal following U.S. District Judge Richard Young’s ruling. Indiana will ask the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to review Young’s decision, which applies just to one couple — not to others who were legally wed elsewhere and are seeking to have Indiana recognize their marriages.

Young issued a preliminary injunction Thursday extending last month’s temporary restraining order forcing the state to list Amy Sandler as the spouse of Niki Quasney on a death certificate after Quasney dies of cancer.

Young did not rule on whether Indiana’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. That ruling is expected to come later.

The Indiana attorney general’s office said in court documents that recognition of the couple’s marriage now could raise false hopes for others because courts might eventually uphold the state’s gay marriage ban.

“The traditional definition of marriage has been around for a long time. Its validity is hotly contested, but the outcome of these legal disputes is uncertain,” the state said in its request for a stay.

Young’s order “cannot conclusively resolve the legality of same-sex marriages,” the state said, and added that the best course of action would to be to wait for a final decision.

Attorneys for both sides expect the lawsuit and several like it throughout the country to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court. Rulings striking down gay-marriage bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia were already being appealed.

Quasney and Sandler were among five couples challenging the ban with help from the national gay rights group Lambda Legal. Lambda Legal did not return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment Friday.

The Munster couple, who have two young daughters, had argued that lack of recognition would endanger Sandler’s ability to collect Social Security and other death benefits. Quasney has stage 4 ovarian cancer and has undergone numerous surgeries and chemotherapy. Quasney will have reached the average survival rate for her disease next month.

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