INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence contradicted himself on same-sex marriage, telling the court he had no power to enforce Indiana’s gay marriage ban, then directing executive agencies about how to proceed after court rulings on the subject, a federal judge says.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but he put the order on hold as a federal appeals court is taking up his earlier decisions on the issue.
Also in the Tuesday ruling, Young said that on June 26, a day after he struck down the ban, Pence ordered agencies to abide by that ruling. But when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Young’s order, the governor said that “executive branch agencies are to execute their functions as though the U.S. District Court order … had not been issued.”
That, Young wrote, contradicted Pence’s repeated assertions that he did not have “any authority to enforce, or other role respecting,” the state’s ban on gay marriage. Pence “did what he claimed he could not do by directing executive agencies on how to proceed in enforcing the law.”
Young called Pence’s actions a “bold misrepresentation” and said that he found them “to be, at a minimum, troubling.”
Pence’s decisions, announced in memoranda from chief counsel Mark Ahearn, applied only to state agencies that report to his governor’s office and would affect state services controlled by those agencies, such as the ability to file jointly for state taxes.
“The memoranda issued by the governor clearly contradict his prior representations to the court,” Young wrote in Tuesday’s ruling.
As a result, Young stripped Pence of the immunity from the suit that he had previously been granted.
“By law a governor exercises authority over the executive branch of government,” Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said in a statement Wednesday.
“Governor Pence has a duty to uphold the laws of the state and will continue to do so while respecting the courts’ rulings. That does not make the governor a proper party in every lawsuit against the state of Indiana,” she said.