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Attorney general guides clerks on same-sex marriage licenses

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Attorney General’s office on Tuesday issued guidance to county clerks dealing with confusion about marriage licenses issued last week to same-sex couples.

A federal court judge struck down Indiana’s gay marriage ban and couples received marriage licenses all around the state for three days before a stay was ordered on the ruling Friday.

Bryan Corbin, spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller, said county clerks have asked questions about the status of licenses. Zoeller offered some answers though he cautioned he is not their attorney.

“This guidance is intended to help clerks navigate unfamiliar legal terrain. Guidance is subject to change based on future rulings of the court or future legislative action,” the news release said.

Zoeller’s office hasn’t concluded that same-sex marriage licenses issued or same-sex marriages solemnized between June 25 and June 27 are void or invalid, regardless of whether they have been solemnized or recorded.

“The validity is undetermined and such issues might have to be determined by a court later.”

For situations where a marriage license was obtained from the county clerk before the stay order was issued but the signed marriage license is returned to the clerk after the stay, then the guidance is that clerks should respect the 7th Circuit’s stay order and refrain from further processing or recording solemnized same-sex marriage certificates.

Similarly, Corbin said county clerks, judges and other officials who perform marriages should refrain from solemnizing any additional marriages of same-sex couples - even if a license were issued during the window before the stay - until there is a conclusive ruling in the appeal.