Religious freedom is fundamentally important; that's why it's already protected in our state and federal Constitutions. But that doesn't give any of us the right to discriminate against others. We must ensure that hardworking gay and transgender people are not denied a job, evicted from their apartment, or refused service by a business just because of who they are.

Click here to learn more about the ACLU's work to protect LGBTQ rights at the national level and in other states.

What does transgender mean?

Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. Gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary). For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.

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You may have heard Governor Pence, in his State of the State address, challenging all of us to find a way in which religious liberty can co-exist alongside civil rights laws, including civil rights laws updated to protect gay and transgender Hoosiers.

The American Civil Liberties Union has fought long and hard for religious liberty for all faiths for nearly 100 years and we believe that freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination, both protected by the Constitution, can coexist.

As a nation grappling with how to address discrimination in a diverse society, we have decided again and again that, in this narrow conflict, freedom from discrimination prevails.

Every American enjoys broad and important religious liberty rights. For instance, clergy and faith leaders, not the government, determine which marriages their religious organizations officiate and bless. The ACLU would defend the constitutional rights of any pastor, rabbi, imam, priest or other faith leader if government tried to dictate the nature of their religious rites or ceremonies. The free exercise clause of the First Amendment protects those faith-based decisions. Further, existing Indiana civil rights law preserves full discretion for religious organizations in their hiring decisions. These current protections for religious organizations will not change.

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Senate Bill 344, a proposal being offered as an alternative to Senate Bill 100 allegedly aims to protect LGBTQ people in Indiana; however, the bill is a non-starter with a host of problems, including:

  • It offers zero protections for transgender people in Indiana
  • It codifies second-class status for gay Hoosiers by carving out targeted religious exemptions.
  • It eliminates local authority to pass new laws that provide greater protections for gay and transgender people.
  • It draws overly broad religious exemptions, including allowing:

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December 1, 2015

On November 17, 2015, legislative leaders in the Indiana General Assembly introduced Senate Bill 100—legislation that, if improved, would update Indiana's civil rights law to add protections for gay and transgender Hoosiers from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Religious freedom is fundamentally important; that's why it's protected in our state and federal Constitutions. But that doesn't give any of us the right to discriminate against others. The most troubling parts of this legislation must be improved before it can achieve its aim of addressing discrimination against gay and transgender people in Indiana.

We applaud legislative leaders for recognizing that public accommodations—businesses that sell their goods and services to the general public—should be included in anti-discrimination protections, and for recognizing that transgender people, who experience some of the most extreme discrimination, are part of our community.

We are encouraged that lawmakers have made this issue a clear priority for 2016, but now that we've had a chance to review SB 100 in greater detail, our encouragement from this first step is tempered by the serious flaws in the legislation, as written, that would undermine current civil rights protections as well as seriously limit any added protections it affords to gay and transgender Hoosiers.

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June 26, 2015

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people be­come something greater than once they were....It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves....They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. It is so ordered.

--Supreme Court of the United States, Obergefell v. Hodges, June 26, 2015

Friday's historic decision is a joyous one for same-sex couples across the nation and for everyone who wants to participate fully in our society and enter, in front of friends and family, into the lifelong commitment of marriage with the person they love.

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June 22, 2015

FAQ Update on the U.S. Supreme Court and Marriage Equality 

Which marriage equality cases is the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide?

On April 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard challenges to the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee bans on marriage for same-sex couples that had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Upon review, the Supreme Court consolidated six cases from these four states and is set to issue a ruling.

What is the ACLU's role in the marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court?

The ACLU represents clients in Kentucky and Ohio as co-counsel. The case in Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear, is a federal court challenge to Kentucky's constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples in which the plaintiffs are same-sex couples seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages. The case from Ohio, Obergefell v. Hodges, presents the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage validly licensed by another state.

When will the Court issue its ruling in the marriage equality cases?

Though it is difficult to predict when the Supreme Court will rule, it is commonly believed that a decision will be issued in the marriage equality cases by the end of June. We will alert our supporters about the Supreme Court's decision as soon as it is issued. If you have not signed up for our email alerts, you may do so here: https://action.aclu.org/secure/in-email-updates

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June 22, 2015

FAQ Update on the U.S. Supreme Court and Marriage Equality 

Which marriage equality cases is the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide?

On April 28, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard challenges to the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee bans on marriage for same-sex couples that had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Upon review, the Supreme Court consolidated six cases from these four states and is set to issue a ruling.

What is the ACLU's role in the marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court?

The ACLU represents clients in Kentucky and Ohio as co-counsel. The case in Kentucky, Bourke v. Beshear, is a federal court challenge to Kentucky's constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples in which the plaintiffs are same-sex couples seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriages. The case from Ohio, Obergefell v. Hodges, presents the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage validly licensed by another state.

When will the Court issue its ruling in the marriage equality cases?

Though it is difficult to predict when the Supreme Court will rule, it is commonly believed that a decision will be issued in the marriage equality cases by the end of June. We will alert our supporters about the Supreme Court's decision as soon as it is issued. If you have not signed up for our email alerts, you may do so here: https://action.aclu.org/secure/in-email-updates

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April 9, 2015

What a difference a week makes. Last week, we and others were engaged in negotiations to "fix" Indiana's just-passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA. Today, we can say that while the situation in our state is far from perfect, we ended up in a place that is both historic and significant.

Religious freedom is one of our founding principles as a nation, and no one would argue that it should be limited. That does not mean, however, that it should be used as a weapon against others. As Americans, we are strong because we embrace many faiths and protect every individual's right to worship. Faith, however, is not a weapon. It is a thread that can strengthen the diverse fabric of our state and nation. Freedom of religion already is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, and is a fundamental right to be cherished.

We are grateful to the corporate community, which was instrumental in rolling back some damaging components of RFRA, and which has stated its commitment to statewide protections for gay and transgender people.

For the first time in our history, Indiana now recognizes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity — even if they currently exist in only a few local human rights ordinances. And the passage of RFRA here, and the resulting backlash, has brought about a startling transformation that has advanced the cause of LGBTQ equality all across the country. This tipping point has helped defeat similar proposals in Georgia and Nevada, pared back the legislation in Arkansas, and dimmed prospects for passage of RFRAs in North Carolina and Michigan. Further, it has opened up the door for introducing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections not only in Indiana, but in Arizona, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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March 30, 2015

Fairness for all Hoosiers Act

Today, Freedom Indiana and the ACLU of Indiana announced legislation to fix RFRA and protect LGBTQ Hoosiers from discrimination. This legislation—the "Fairness for All Hoosiers Act"—is exactly what Indiana needs to begin rebuilding our reputation and undo the harm that RFRA has inflicted on our state.

This common-sense legislation would do two important things:

  • Update Indiana's state civil rights law to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Hoosiers in employment, housing and public accommodations
  • Clarify that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to undermine local or statewide civil rights protections

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March 31, 2015

By Jane Henegar, Executive Director, ACLU of Indiana

Repeated attempts by Governor Pence to "clarify" Indiana's RFRA have fueled, instead of calmed, the outrage overtaking Hoosiers and the rest of the country. The governor's actions have not demonstrated sufficiently that discrimination does not define our state.

In a press conference, Pence said "It would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone," But then he refused to extend protections to LGBTQ Hoosiers and visitors to Indiana.

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The American Civil Liberties Union on February 27 announced the filing of a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on two cases that challenge Kentucky state laws, one barring same-sex couples from marrying and the other prohibiting recognition of same-sex couples' marriages from out of state. We expect the arguments to take place on April 28.

The Supreme Court has consolidated six cases from four states on the issue of marriage equality. Kentucky is the only one that presents both issues: whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to license marriages between same-sex couples and whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to recognize same-sex marriages from another state. The ACLU is co-counsel for the plaintiff couples in both Kentucky challenges.

On January 16, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of a federal appeals court ruling that upheld bans on the freedom to marry and recognition of marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other jurisdictions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Its review sets the stage for final resolution of the debate about marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide.

It is too soon to know what the Court will decide and what impact any decision might have on couples in Indiana. For now, marriage equality remains the law in Indiana. We remain cautiously optimistic that the Court will recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples, and we will remain watchful and report developments as soon as we receive them.

Marriage Plaintiffs cropped 4-28-2015ACLU of Indiana Marriage Equality Plaintiffs in Washington, D.C.Just over a year ago, Hoosiers faced a terrifying possibility: that our lawmakers would enshrine discrimination into Indiana's Constitution by banning same-sex marriages.

Together, with our voices raised, we beat that amendment.

Then last September, we won marriage equality for all Hoosiers in a major victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Today we are in our nation's capital to witness the start of the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on marriage equality bans in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. When the Supreme Court issues its decision, we will know whether same-sex couples will be able to marry in all 50 states, or whether marriage bans may be reinstituted in many of the states, like Indiana, in which they have been struck down.

Click here to listen to the oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court

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January 16, 2015

Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow marriage equality for same-sex couples. The Court's announcement makes it likely that this question will finally be resolved before the end of the Court's current term in late June. What does this mean for Indiana couples who are legally married under State law? It is too soon to know what the Court will decide and what impact any decision might have on couples in Indiana. For now, marriage equality remains the law in Indiana. We remain cautiously optimistic that the Court will rule the right way and recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples, and we will remain watchful and will report any developments to you as soon as we receive them.

Adam Liptak of The New York Times reminds us, "T]he number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70 percent of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry. The pace of change on same-sex marriage, in both popular opinion and in the courts, has no parallel in the nation's history." Read the full article here. Read the ACLU's blog post by James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project here.

 

November 10, 2014

What ruling did the 6th Circuit issue?

On Nov. 6, 2014, a three-judge panel for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court rulings of six cases from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky. In each of these states, a federal judge had ruled in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, and all six rulings were appealed to the 6th Circuit. The Nov. 6 ruling upholds marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky and denies same sex couples the right to marry or have their marriages recognized in these states.

What effect does the 6th Circuit ruling have on Indiana?

The 6th Circuit ruling does not change the fact that Chief Judge Richard Young's decision striking down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is final, and Indiana's case is over. Judge Young's June 25, 2014 decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Sept. 4, 2014. On Oct. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear same-sex marriage cases from Indiana and four other states, which cleared the way for Indiana's same-sex marriages to become lawful and for Indiana to recognize the out-of-state same-sex marriages of Indiana residents.

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October 22, 2014

The ACLU of Indiana has received reports over the past two weeks that same-sex couples married in Indiana during the "window period" in June were being turned away at the Social Security office when they applied for a name change. Read the story in The Indianapolis Star.

As of this afternoon, the Social Security Administration has updated its policy on Name Changes to direct its offices to recognize our June marriages! We are keeping an eye on other Social Security policies related to benefits to ensure that they are all likewise revised. As of now, some of these policies do not reflect today's guidance on June marriages, but we expect to see the issue resolved by the end of this week. Watch this space for updates!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mon., Oct. 6, 2014

Indianapolis – Today the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear same-sex marriage cases from Indiana and four other states, making it possible for Hoosier same-sex couples again to be married and clearing the way for same-sex marriages to become lawful in Indiana and in at least 30 other states.

American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said, "I am ecstatic that the long-promised goal of marriage equality has been fully realized. This case is over, and same-sex marriage is a reality in Indiana. This is good for Indiana. It is a great day not only for our plaintiffs and their children, but for all those who want to get married in Indiana."

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August 27, 2014

On August 26, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk argued forcefully and skillfully before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for fairness and equality for same-sex couples in Indiana. In answer to the judges' questions, Ken emphasized that the State of Indiana has no rational and defensible reason to discriminate against marriage for these couples. His brilliant and well-prepared arguments should make all Hoosiers proud.

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July 30, 2014

Yesterday the individuals fighting Indiana's ban on same-sex marriages and its failure to recognize such marriages performed outside the state filed their appellate brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. The brief was filed in the consolidated appeal of three cases that had resulted in the June decision of Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court to overturn Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage. The district court ruling opened a three-day window where Hoosier couples were legally married. Hundreds of couples exchanged their vows, but the Seventh Circuit issued a stay that stopped further marriages pending appeal.

Thirty-six plaintiffs, including the seven individuals we are representing, are part of this case, which will be heard by the Seventh Circuit at 9:30 a.m. (Central Time) on August 26.

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July 25, 2014

When we posted our July 11 letter to Attorney General Holder, we also told you that we were not sure if there was anything to be done about Governor Pence's position that same-sex marriages will not be recognized under Indiana law. Recent events in other courts have given us some direction on what we may or may not be able to accomplish in the coming months.

Utah also had a "window period" between its district court ruling striking down the law prohibiting same-sex marriage and before a stay was issued. After the stay, Utah, like Indiana, did not intend to recognize those marriages. A lawsuit was filed seeking an order declaring those marriages valid under state law. And, the federal district court declared that the window period marriages were in fact valid under Utah law. This ruling was upheld on appeal. (Attorney General Holder had already extended federal recognition.)

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July 2, 2014

We understand that in the wake of the Seventh Circuit's stay of Judge Richard Young's decision striking down Indiana's ban on the performance and recognition of same-sex marriages that there are a lot of questions. The Seventh Circuit has set the case on an expedited briefing schedule with the case to be fully briefed by early August, so we are hoping for a prompt decision. However, even if we win, there may be another stay entered pending a possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is our position that all marriages entered into in Indiana after Judge Young's decision and before the stay late in the afternoon on Friday, June 27, are valid. However, that is our position only and may not be shared by the government or private entities that are being asked to recognize the marriages.

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Two days after federal Judge Richard Young overturned the state's ban on same sex marriage, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Friday, June 27, 2014 granted the State of Indiana's motion for a stay, halting same-sex marriages in Indiana.

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When the federal judge's ruling came down on the late morning of Wednesday, June 25, a shout rang out across the ACLU of Indiana office. "We won the marriage case!" As the news began to spread over news and social media websites, through texts and phone calls, Facebook and tweets, that elation became a statewide groundswell of goodwill toward the couples who had waited years—or even decades—to enjoy the benefits and protections of marriage in Indiana.

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Melody Layne and Tara Betterman of Indianapolis have lived together in a committed relationship for nearly five years. They 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 sense, and their daughter understands that they are family. Layne and Betterman strongly support each other. They share finances and responsibility for their property, including the home they share. They also share vows and rings.

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Midori-Kris webMidori-Kris webWhen a husband or wife passes away, the unavoidable task of arranging the funeral can serve as a measure of comfort to the grieving spouse. But in 2011, when Midori Fujii's wife of 11 years, Kris Brittain, died after a two-year struggle with ovarian cancer, the funeral home would not allow her the dignity of making those decisions because her California marriage is not recognized in Indiana. And since she was not "next-of-kin," they said, Fujii had "no relationship" to her wife.

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Gregory Hasty and Christopher Vallero live in Hamilton County, Ind. 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.

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Monica Wehrle and Harriet Miller reside in Allen County, Ind., and have been a committed, loving couple since 1977. Long-time women's rights advocates, the couple created The Women's Bureau of Fort Wayne, 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.

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Scott and Rodney Moubray-Carrico of New Albany, Ind., have lived together in a committed relationship for 12 years. Rodney is a general manager of a hotel, and Scott manages a department store. In 2010, they  combined their surnames to Moubray-Carrico after experiencing challenges while enrolling their son in preschool.

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The Indiana Youth Group (IYG), which works with LGBTQ teens, has fought for almost two years for the right to sell its specialty license plate in the State of Indiana. In May 2013, an Administrative Law Judge ruled that the State violated the group's specialty plate contract when the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) suspended sales of the plate in 2012 without giving the nonprofit the required notice and a chance to correct any alleged issues.

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While the ACLU of Indiana has long fought for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities, no battle on this front has been more important than the fight to protect the Indiana Constitution from the stain of discrimination.

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Marriage 2014 Steven Stolen QuoteRob MacPherson and Steven Stolen at ACLU Press Conference, March 14, 2014Rob 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, Stolen was a college professor for 20 years and is currently the Regional Director for Rocketship Indiana, a charter school management association. Macpherson is the 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.

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