August 22, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INDIANAPOLIS--In the first of case of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana today filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana's refusal to recognize the civil unions of three same-gender couples married in another state. 

""Gay Hoosiers work and pay taxes just like everyone else, but they are denied the right to have their unions recognized by the state of Indiana,"" said John Krull, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. ""That's just not right."" 

The lawsuit, Morrison v. O'Bannon, was filed on behalf of three couples: Ruth Morrison and Teresa Stephens, David Wene and David Squire, and Charlotte Egler and Dawn Egler. All three of the couples are residents of Indiana and entered into civil unions in Vermont, a state that recognizes same-gender marriage and allows justices of the peace, judges or members of the clergy to certify such unions. The lawsuit names Indiana governor Frank O'Bannon as a defendant in the case. 

According to the ACLU complaint, the prohibit against marriage between persons of the same gender violates provisions in the state constitution that guarantee privacy rights and the right to pursue happiness, which the ACLU said includes the right to enter into civil marriage. 

""Our clients just want to be treated the same as other citizens,"" said Sean Lemieux, director of the ACLU of Indiana's Equal Rights Project. ""They just want the same opportunity to build a life with someone they love just like everybody else. And they want to protect themselves and their children by gaining access to the comprehensive system of protections and obligations that are only available through civil marriage."" 

The ACLU lawsuit asks the court to order the state to recognize Vermont civil unions with all attendant benefits and seeks a declaration from the court that the Indiana law that prohibits same-gender marriage is unconstitutional. 

The ACLU of Indiana filed the lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court. Lemieux will be arguing the case for the ACLU. 

The legal complaint is online at http://archive.aclu.org/court/morrison.pdf

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