Add Indiana to the list of states where a federal judge has ruled the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
As of about 9:30 a.m. today, the Kosciusko Clerk’s Office began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and at least one couple planned to get a license this afternoon.
Ann Torpy, clerk of Kosciusko Circuit and Superior Courts, said the Indiana Attorney General’s Office contacted her around 9:30 a.m. today and said her office should be issuing the licenses until a stay is granted on the ruling. She said the first same-sex marriage license was issued at 9:50 a.m.
Prior to the attorney general's order, under the advisement of county attorney Chad Miner, the clerk’s office was not issuing the licenses until more information was provided by the attorney general.
According to the Associated Press, US Southern District Court Judge Richard L. Young on Wednesday struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling that immediately allows gay couples to wed. The ruling also said Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state. The Indiana attorney general’s office appealed the ruling late Wednesday, and Gov. Mike Pence supported the appeal but said Indiana would follow the law. As of this morning, a stay on the ruling had not been issued.
Clerks in some counties like Marion, Hamilton, Boone and Allen started issuing marriage licenses yesterday, with Marion County reporting issuing licenses to 186 same-sex couples.
Christina Evansky, of Warsaw, plans to get a marriage license from the Kosciusko County Clerk’s office this afternoon to marry her partner, Christiina Blackshire.
“This ruling is kind of wonderful for us,” she said in a telephone interview early this morning.
Evansky and Blackshire have been together three years.
“Over a year ago I gave her an engagement ring. This year we started making plans. We were going to go to Chicago. August 13 was our original date,” Evansky said. “We even have our reception planned for August. We’re still going to keep the reception plans we already have.”
When asked why it was important to get married in Kosciusko County, she said, “We live here. This is where we pay our taxes. This is where our child goes to school. This is where we work. We’re not asking for special rights, just the same rights.”
Their 16-year-old daughter and a friend were to be the witnesses for the couple’s wedding today if they can find a judge to marry them.
Evansky said she planned to wear a medium blue shirt, with her bride-to-be planning to wear a turquoise blouse. “It’s a beautiful color,” Evansky said.
On the ruling, District 22 State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki said, “I kind of think everyone suspected this would happen. Every other state has gone that way. To ignore what’s going on in the states around us is just silly.”
When people blame “activist judges,” Kubacki said voters should then elect conservative judges. “We have the power to do that. It’s in our power to elect conservative judges,” she said.
As for the state attorney general appealing it, Kubacki said, “I would not appeal it. We have the health care issue and that’s going to cost us tremendously. We can’t waste money on an issue as the federal government will be the ultimate decider on that. We don’t have the money to spend on this. What state has won on this issue (of same-sex marriage)?”
The Indiana ruling came the same day the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling overturning Utah’s gay marriage ban, marking the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that states must allow gay marriage, according to the AP. That ruling puts the issue a step closer to the nation’s highest court.
District 18 State Rep. Dave Wolkins said, “Obviously I was disappointed in the ruling but I knew it was going to come. It seems it’s been the trend by the federal judges who have ruled on this. I support the attorney general in filing an appeal.”
He said the issue will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it should, and then once and for all states will find if they have the right or not to set limits.
Other local legislators could not be reached for comment.
Monica Boyer, co-founder of Silent No More, said she fought hard last legislative session to protect marriage as between one man and one woman. Wednesday’s ruling has a lot of implications people are not thinking about, she said.
“People can live as they choose, I firmly believe that. But I don’t believe a group of people have the right to redefine marriage,” Boyer said.
One of the implications people may not think about, she said, is how allowing same-sex marriage will affect religious institutions such as a local Christian college. If a gay married couple wants to attend that college, or if a gay man or lesbian want to work at that college, Boyer said there would be implications. Would the college be able to follow its religious convictions, or would it have to admit that gay couple or employ the lesbian?
“I’ve seen an avalanche of persecution of religious businesses like photographers and bakers,” she said.
Silent No More, in conjunction with other “pro-family” groups such as the American Family Association and Tea Party groups across the state, plan to lobby the state to pursue a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” like the one Mississippi passed.
According to the Washington Post, “Mississippi legislators ... took up and quickly passed a controversial religious freedom bill that could allow state residents to sue over laws they say place a substantial burden on their religious practices.
“Supporters of the measure say it would protect religious freedoms, while opponents say it could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians. A similar bill that passed Arizona’s legislature earlier this year, but Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed it after the bill drew loud protests from gay rights and civil liberties groups,” the Washington Post article said.
Boyer said the Act would protect believers. “We want to make sure the right of conscience and believers are protected,” she said.
“My fear is not so much gay marriage passed today but that my religious beliefs are under fire,” she also said.
Wolkins said he would “absolutely” be supportive of such a bill.
“I think you have the right to do business with who you want to,” Wolkins said. “It’s the same thing as ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service,’” he said.
Asked if there were a line where both sides could agree, Boyer said she had no opposition on civil unions as long as her religious beliefs are protected. However, she said the “other side” didn’t want civil unions, they wanted marriage and “that goes into our religious convictions. That’s where the problem is.”
She said it was “just a matter of time” before churches are impacted.
In his ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Young said the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause because it treats couples differently based on their sexual orientation, the AP reports.
‘‘Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana,’’ he wrote. ‘‘These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.’’
According to the Associated Press, the ruling involves lawsuits filed by several gay couples, who along with the state had asked for a summary judgment in the case. Young’s ruling was mixed but was generally in favor of the gay couples and prevents the state from enforcing the ban.
Federal courts across the country have recently struck down gay marriage bans, but many of those rulings are on hold pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides of the issue expect the matter to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court.
‘‘Indiana now joins the momentum for nationwide marriage equality and Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history,’’ Lambda Legal, the national gay rights group that represented five of the couples, said in a statement Wednesday.
A movement to add a gay marriage ban to the Indiana constitution faltered during this legislative session when lawmakers removed language about civil unions from the amendment. That means the soonest the issue could appear on a ballot is 2016, unless federal court rulings scuttle the proposed amendment, the AP reported.

Edited 6.26.2014: details added at top of story