Gay, lesbian couples who file marriage applications unlikely to be prosecuted for perjury

Clerk White says prosecutors have other worries

INDIANAPOLIS - Same-sex couples who fill out marriage license applications in Indiana won't be able to legally marry anytime soon, if ever. 

But they aren't likely to go to jail, either. 

Authorities said they're not aware of anyone who's been prosecuted for illegally filling out the forms. 

Marion County Clerk Beth White said gay and lesbian couples often show up at her office asking to be married.

White and her people accept their forms and their money, but they don't give them a license.

In addition to the straight couples who arrive daily, White says gays and lesbians often come, too, knowing they can't be legally married, but just wanting to make a statement by filling out the license application.

She said she can't legally give them a license, but she doesn't try to prosecute them for committing perjury for signing forms with a male name on the female side of the application or vice versa.

"Every single county has a prosecutor. That person is elected to make these kinds of decisions. I will accept the application. I will take the $18. But I will not be able to issue a license," White said.

Despite widespread opinion that state lawmakers stiffened the law on this subject this year, that didn't happen.

In fact, they slightly reduced penalties for perjury, and there is no indication authorities are concerned about this as it pertains to marriage licenses.

White was asked if she ever referred a marriage application to the prosecutor.

"Absolutely not. No, we have not. Not about this issue or any other," she said.

And she said she was unaware of any other county clerk doing so.

An attorney who advocates for gay and lesbian clients says applicants can probably avoid legal problems by putting their sex in parenthesis after their names on the form, making it clear they're not trying to have one pose as the opposite sex.

"And I never say never.  But I can't see how they have a problem," attorney Don Sherfick said.

White said there has been no increase in the number of gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses since the Supreme Court decision two weeks ago.

But advocates said it's coming. 

They said once they get their legal paperwork in order, there will be a surge from people wanting to make at least a statement at county clerk's offices throughout Indiana.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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