Tuesday, July 09, 2013

In Indiana, Gay Couples Face Jail Time For Filing A Marriage License

It was just last week That I posted about anti-marriage equality, Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, and his staff, deleting pro-marriage equality comments from the governor’s Facebook page. The governor called the deleted comments uncivil and rude, but the ones I found were anything but, making Pence, and Indiana, seem kinda hate-filled against The Gays.

But that was just the beginning, I guess.

Now, it appears that a same-sex couple applying for a marriage license in Indiana, where same-sex marriage is against the law, could be arrested and jailed for up to three years simply for submitting a marriage license application to their county clerk; even if the license is denied.

See, up there in Indiana is an old law from 1997 state law that says it’s a Class D felony to submit false information on a marriage license application or lie about the physical condition, including gender, of a marriage license applicant.

So, if two men, or two women, who wished to marry—or just fill out an application in protest—their signing of the application would trigger the law, because Indiana’s electronic marriage license application specifically designates "male applicant" and "female applicant" sections for gathering required background data.

Now, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that anyone could be arrested for filling out a marriage license application and writing a man’s name in the ‘female applicant’ section—or even vice versa for a lesbian couple—but It is against the law in Indiana where the governor remains virulently anti-marriage equality.

And, there is a recently approved reform of the state's criminal code will, starting July 1, 2014, that will drop the crime to a Level 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of just 18 months in prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000.

Big deal, eh?

The odd part of this bass-ackwards law is that a county clerk who ignores Indiana's same-sex marriage ban, by issuing a license to a same-sex couple, would face minimal punishment. The same law that makes it a felony to submit false information on a marriage license application declares it only a Class B misdemeanor—punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000—for a clerk to issue a marriage license based on that false information; and, because the charge is not a felony the clerk would not face removal from office upon conviction.

It’s a felony to submit false information, but it’s a lesser crime to act upon the false information, even when you know it to be false.

Indiana is set up for a marriage equality fight next year over whether to add its existing marriage equality ban to its state Constitution. The GOP-controlled General Assembly will decide during the January-March 2014 session whether to submit the proposed constitutional amendment—which also bans any form of civil union, you know, just in case—to voters for ratification.

If lawmakers approve the amendment, supported by Governor Pence, then the matter will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

Letting the majority decide what the minority can, and cannot, do.

The good news is that, right now, many Indianans are opposed to amending the state Constitution with discrimination. But, still, in Indiana you have a governor trying to manipulate the conversation on marriage equality into his favor, and you have laws that would jail same-sex couples who fill out an application for a marriage license.

Not good, Indiana, you can do better.


Raybeard said...

Sounds like the Gov is playing a game of 'How Low Can You Go?'. Well he wins this one 'cos he's obviously descended down to the pits. Yuk!

anne marie in philly said...

asshat of the week award!

Beth said...

Take heart, Citizen. There are plenty of my fellow Hoosiers that are getting really, REALLY angry about what Pence is trying to do. Even some legislators in his own party voted against what he was trying to do with cutting taxes, and he was defeated on that. Plenty of us are pissed off that he wants to focus on this dumbass Amendment when we've still got an unemployment rate over 8% in our state. He is not a popular man right now. If he continues to push for this Amendment and if he tries to enforce this absurd law, he's going to have a fight on his hands. A BIG FIGHT.

mistress maddie said...

Really? I can see I'm going to be needing alot of cheese wire this year for asshats.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Is this what R. Dean Taylor meant when he sang "Indiana wants me. Lord, I can't go back there"?

the dogs' mother said...

Think of the economic boost equality marriage will bring! And jobs. Lawyers have lots of employment with the flower shop lawsuits here. :-)

Ron said...

The good news is that homophobes like Pence will eventually lose. The bad news is that it's going to take awhile in states like Indiana who elect Republican controlled state houses.