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Indiana, Wisconsin couples in gay marriage case

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 26, 2014 at 4:29 pm •  Published: August 26, 2014
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday on gay marriage fights from Indiana and Wisconsin, setting the stage for one ruling. Each case deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans are constitutional.

For the couples challenging the bans, the fight is about fairness and the right to be treated like other couples. A look at some of the plaintiffs:

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INDIANA:

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney didn't plan to get married until they could tie the knot in Indiana.

Cancer changed that.

The two women, inseparable since they met in 2000, were happy together as they moved around the country, finding acceptance in such places as St. Louis, Las Vegas and Chicago.

But Quasney was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009, so two years later, the couple moved to her hometown of Munster, Indiana. They have two daughters, ages 3 and 1, and wanted them to grow up near Quasney's family.

In Indiana, people weren't as accepting. They were told they couldn't obtain a family membership from a gym and when they took one of their daughters to a hospital for a blood test, staff members questioned who Quasney was.

"When we moved to Indiana, we were treated like we were strangers," said Sandler, 37. "For the first time in a town that we were living in, we were bumping up against hurdles that we never faced. It was really frustrating."

The couple had a civil union in Chicago in 2011 so that Quasney, a 38-year-old former teacher, could be placed on Sandler's health plan. They married last August in Massachusetts near a cottage they visit regularly.

Neither of those ceremonies counted in Indiana until April, when a federal judge ordered the state to recognize their marriage because of Quasney's advanced cancer. They wanted Sandler to be listed as Quasney's spouse on her death certificate and feared Sandler would have difficulty obtaining death benefits if their union wasn't recognized.

Sandler said the couple wants other people to have the same rights.

"It's something we hope changes with the next decision," she said. "Because everybody wants to have the freedoms that they deserve."

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For Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins, of Chesterton, Indiana, a spring health crisis turned into one of their worst nightmares.

Everly, 56, was hospitalized for six days in March after the carbon dioxide levels in her blood soared and she nearly lapsed into a coma. During that hospital stay, she had a terrifying middle-of-the-night setback that made her fear she was dying.

But because she and Judkins, 58, aren't relatives, Everly couldn't get hospital staff to call Judkins, even though they have been together more than 13 years.

"They said, 'We can take care of you,' but I said 'I need her!'" she recalled.

A night custodian finally helped Everly contact Judkins, who arrived at the hospital at about 4 a.m., only to face a 15-minute wait before staff would admit her into Everly's intensive care unit room.

While they could get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, Everly said the legal protections that would bring would vanish once they returned to Indiana. So they joined a lawsuit filed in March by national gay rights group Lambda Legal, which is one of several challenging Indiana's gay marriage ban.

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