Today, a federal court in Indiana ordered the state to recognize immediately the marriage of a lesbian couple in Munster. Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Amy Sandler, Niki Quasney and their two children, seeking immediate relief from Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples as Ms. Quasney battles stage four cancer. Ms. Quasney wants to be recognized as married in her home state while she is still alive, and cannot wait any longer for the protections of marriage.
“We’re greatly relieved for Amy, Niki and their two young children. They are a loving family coping with a terminal illness. The State of Indiana has no justification for denying them dignity, legitimacy, and respect as a family during this inexpressibly difficult time.” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “They’re married, they love each other and they are doing their best to protect their family. The local hospital defers to state law to determine whether a couple is validly married, and Niki worries that she won’t be able to be with Amy when it counts. Niki also wants to make sure Amy has the protections of a surviving spouse under Indiana law.”
Ms. Quasney and Ms. Sandler have been in a loving and committed relationship for 13 years, and they have two children, ages 3 and 1. Almost five years ago, Ms. Quasney was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, having more than 100 tumors removed surgically in 2009, and years of chemotherapy. They have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts in 2013 but need their marriage to be legally recognized in Indiana to receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives. Niki wants certainty that Amy will receive an accurate death certificate so that she can take care of her Niki’s affairs and access the safety net available to a surviving spouse and young children.
Indiana has been one of the last remaining states attempting to enshrine discrimination in their state Constitution, though their efforts have fallen short. This establishes a precedent that will help to turn the tide in the right direction.