Midori Fujii, et al. v. Indiana Governor, et al. - Plaintiff Profiles
Meet the couples in our Indiana marriage case:
Midori Fujii lived in a committed relationship with Kristie Kay Brittain from 2000 until Kris's death in 2011. Midori and Kris met in 1997 when both were serving on the Board of Directors of a local nonprofit organization, and they married in Los Angeles in the summer of 2008. Months later, when Kris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and going through multiple surgeries, hospitalizations and treatments, Midori became her primary caregiver, using her sick leave, paid and unpaid time off to care for Kris.
Because of Indiana’s marriage discrimination statute, Midori and Kris were considered unmarried and did not have the protections and decision-making authority they automatically would have been given by statute had they been an opposite-sex couple married in California and living in Indiana.
And because Midori's marriage to Kris is not recognized in Indiana, Midori was required to pay more than $300,000.00 in Indiana inheritance tax on all of the property that Kris left to her, including their shared home. If Midori were an opposite sex spouse she would have paid no inheritance tax on the property she inherited from Kris. Further, unless Indiana recognizes their marriage, Midori will not be eligible to receive Kris's social security benefits when she turns 65.
The State’s refusal to recognize her marriage to Kris does not just cause Midori economic hardship. In her time of grief, she is denied the comfort and dignity of being acknowledged as Kris's widow. For example, following Kris’s death, Midori experienced problems with a funeral director because she was not considered to be a surviving spouse.
Melody Layne and Tara Betterman
Melody Layne and Tara Betterman of Indianapolis have lived together in a committed relationship for nearly five years. Melody and Tara share their home in Indianapolis with Melody’s five year-old biological daughter. Although Tara does not have a legal relationship with the child, she is a parent in every practical respect and their daughter understands that they are family. Melody and Tara strongly support each other. They share finances and responsibility for their property, including the home they share.
In 2012, Melody and Tara married in Central Park in New York City. They would have preferred to marry in their home state, but are prohibited from doing so by Indiana statute. Because their marriage is not recognized in Indiana, Melody and Tara have gone to considerable expense to have an attorney draw up documents, such as health care and general powers of attorney, to try to protect themselves. They understand, however, that this affords them only a fraction of the protections that come with marriage and they are concerned that those papers will not be honored in a crisis.
Melody and Tara would like their marriage to be recognized in Indiana not only because of the concrete protections it would provide them and their daughter, but also because being treated as an unmarried couple disrespects the commitment they have made to one another and devalues their family. They hope that their marriage will be recognized in Indiana before their daughter is old enough to be aware that the state does not consider her family deserving of the same respect afforded other families.
Scott and Rodney Moubray-Carrico
Scott and Rodney Moubray-Carrico of New Albany have lived together in a committed relationship for 12 years. Rodney is General Manager of a hotel, and Scott manages a department store. In 2010, Scott and Rodney both changed their last names to Moubray-Carrico, a combination of their surnames, after experiencing challenges in being viewed as a family while enrolling their son in preschool. Because they cannot be married in Indiana, presenting themselves as a family to their son’s preschool caused confusion. They also hoped that changing their last names would contribute to their son’s self-esteem and sense of security by conveying the stability, permanence and family legitimacy that his peers enjoy simply by virtue of the fact that their parents are permitted to marry in Indiana.
Their six year-old son is beginning to understand the concept of marriage and its unequaled role in defining a family. He knows he and his parents are a family, but he does not understand why his friends’ parents are allowed to marry and his parents are not. He is stigmatized and his family is demeaned by the fact that his parents are excluded from marriage.
Scott and Rodney would like to be able to get married in Indiana because they are concerned that their son is being taught the message that his family is less deserving of respect and support than other families. They also want to have the legal protections married couples rely on.
Monica Wehrle and Harriet Miller
Monica Wehrle and Harriet Miller reside in Allen County and have been a committed, loving couple since 1977. As women’s rights advocates, the couple created the Fort Wayne Women’s Bureau, a nonprofit human services agency that provides a host of services to women and children, and they spearheaded a national fundraising event for the organization.
Because they are not married, they are unable to own property as married people do, but instead have had to incur legal fees to ensure that in the event of one of their deaths, the property would automatically pass to the surviving person. During the course of their relationship as a couple they have had to expend significant sums of money to pay attorneys to create legal documents to secure the right to make medical and other important life decisions for the other person in the event of incapacity. If they were married, such documents would not be necessary. Additionally, are concerned that in the event one of them is hospitalized, these documents will not be honored.
Harriet has three adult children and four grandchildren, and the couple has many great nieces and nephews who know them only as a couple. They wish to marry and wish to do so in Indiana – where they live. They want their legacy to be honored with dignity and their heirs to be proud of who they are, with knowledge that Indiana and the United States recognizes them and their contributions as a couple and provides them with full legal rights.
Gregory Hasty and Christopher Vallero
Gregory Hasty and Christopher Vallero live in Hamilton County, Indiana. Hasty is a surgical technologist who is working on a nursing degree and Vallero is employed by a medical research company in Indianapolis. They have lived with each other in a committed and loving relationship for eight years.
Gregory and Christopher have not married, but desire to do so. They lead shared lives comparable to that of a married couple, yet they are denied the many benefits of marriage, such as home ownership, decision-making rights during a medical emergency and adoption.
In addition to the many tangible benefits that are denied to them because they cannot marry in Indiana, they are denied the many intangible benefits that arise from being able to show the world that they are married. They are stigmatized by Indiana’s refusal to allow them to wed.
Rob MacPherson and Steven Stolen
Rob MacPherson and Steven Stolen, who reside in Indianapolis, have been a committed and loving couple for more than 25 years. They were married in California in 2008. An arts advocate and professional singer, Steven was a college professor for 20 years and is currently the Regional Director for Rocketship Indiana, a charter school management association. Rob is Vice President for Development and Philanthropic Services with the Central Indiana Community Foundation, where he directs the Foundation’s asset development strategies and donor services activities. The couple has a 15 year-old daughter.
Rob and Steven recognize that there are many tangible benefits bestowed under Indiana law to married persons, but these are denied to them and to their child. Their daughter is aware that her parents’ marriage is not recognized by the State, and this causes her concern as she does not view her parents any differently than those of her friends who have opposite-sex married parents. Yet, she is acutely aware that the State treats her parents and her differently.
Because their marriage is not recognized by the State, Rob and Steven have to deny their status as married people when they pay their state taxes, even though the federal government now recognizes them as married. The couple is denied the many benefits of marriage, such as home ownership and decision-making rights during a medical emergency, and they have gone to considerable expense to have documents drawn up by attorneys to give them the same rights they would enjoy as a married couple.