MARION COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – There’s a mix of emotions in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community on Saturday. Following three days filled with hundreds of same-sex marriages, a stay was issued to halt gay marriage in Indiana.
In Marion County alone, nearly 600 marriage licenses were issued the last three days, most of those were same-sex couples. But with a stay in place, are those marriages still legal, valid, legitimate? Legal experts say it’s unclear, but one couple who wed this week says absolutely.
Greg Hastey and CJ Vallero spent Saturday night celebrating with friends. It’s a celebration they never imagined when they woke up Wednesday.
“We were able to get a marriage license and serendipitously met an ordained minister behind us in line who was able to marry us in a beautiful ceremony outside,” Hastey said.
After nine years together, the men say it was easy to say ‘I do.’
“Still celebrating even with a small road bump,” Hastey said.
That small road bump is a stay issued by the 7th Circuit Court, meaning same-sex marriages are on hold until the Indiana Attorney General’s appeal can be heard. That raises questions for couples like Greg and CJ.
“Every time they cross the border out of Indiana into a state that recognizes same-sex marriage they’re married, when they come back home under Indiana law, they’re not married,” Attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman said.
She still advises newlywed couples to apply for spousal benefits at work.
“Now if they don’t give it to you, then ask them for the reason in writing,” Celestino-Horseman said.
She says the federal government will probably still recognize the marriages, but if a death occurs during this gray period, spouses may have to fight for death benefits through the courts.
“Because we’re all in new territory right now. Indiana has had nothing similar in its history,” Celestino-Horseman said.
However, as Greg and CJ celebrate their marriage with friends, there is no question in their mind about the validity of their marriage.
“We are legally married. We married legally in the state of Indiana and beside it all we love each other,” Hastey said.
The stay will last the duration of the appeal, at which time a federal judge will make a ruling whether a ban on same sex marriage is or is not constitutional. Some legal experts predict this will be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.