Victory! Indiana Federal Court Orders Immediate Recognition of Marriage for Terminally Ill Woman and Her Wife
(Evansville, IN,April 10, 2014) — 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 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.
The case, Baskin v. Bogan, was filed by Lambda Legal on March 10th in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. Lambda Legal asked that Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney’s request be heard on an emergency basis due to Ms. Quasney’s medical circumstances.
“We are so relieved. We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other. Our time together and with our daughters is the most important thing in the world to me. I look forward to the day when all couples in Indiana have the freedom to marry,” said Niki Quasney.
Read more about the families and the case here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/take-action/love-unites-us/indiana
Paul Castillo, along with Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director Camilla Taylor,are joined by Barbara Baird of the Law Office of Barbara J. Baird in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Jordan Heinz, Brent Ray, Dmitriy Tishyevich, and Robyn English of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.