No, IN Did Not Make Applying for Marriage License Criminal

On Monday and Tuesday, my Facebook feed was filled up with status updates saying that the state of Indiana had now made it a felony for a gay couple to even apply for a marriage license. Jerame Davis at the Bilerico Project debunks this claim and explains where the confusion came from.

Everything you’ve read about this “new” Indiana law that makes criminals out of same-sex couples who apply for a marriage license is wrong. Dead wrong.

As a native Hoosier, this has me concerned. There is no new law in Indiana that makes criminals out of same-sex couples who apply for a marriage license. An already existing law was updated and there’s been a change in how the state processes marriage license applications. That’s the source of the confusion.

There is actually very little danger of triggering this law if a same-sex couple applies for a marriage license.

Let’s start with the law itself. This law has been in place since 1997 and is intended to penalize anyone who provides false information on a marriage license application as well as penalties for any public official who knowingly certifies false information on any government consent form. It is not tied specifically to same-sex marriage and predates Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban by half a decade…

As you can plainly see, the only change to the law was to strike out Class D felony and change that to a Level 6 felony – a lesser crime.

There’s a lot more detail there, but if you saw a story saying otherwise you might want to read the whole thing.

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  • slc1

    James Hanley commented on this issue yesterday.

    The story from Indiana is being badly misreported. The law is about providing false information on an application for a wedding license and about anyone authorized to solemnize weddings (not just clergy) doing so for an illegal wedding. The law is not new, and the recent change is just a reclassification of the penalties (actually making them marginally lighter). It’s also not specifically about same-sex marriages, but any illegal marriages, for example lying about one’s age on a marriage license application, or performing a wedding for an underage couple. So the law is really just about providing fraudulent info to the state or helping someone violate state marriage laws. And amyone who officiates at a “gay wedding” without a marriage license–i.e., a commitment ceremony that doesn’t attempt to create a legal marriage of a type thatvis banned–is nit in violation of the law.

    Indiana does ban SSM, and that does need to change. But this revision of Indiana law is not in any way a new attacknon SSM, and the reporting I’ve seen is just appallingly misleading.

  • Jackie, Ms. Paper if ya nasty

    Thanks for clearing that up, Ed.