INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge has taken Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to task, saying Pence told the court he had no power to enforce Indiana's gay marriage ban and then ordered executive agencies to do so following court rulings.
Judge Richard Young ruled Tuesday that Indiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states , but put the order on hold as a federal appeals court is taking up his earlier decisions on the issue.
Young says Pence issued contradictory memoranda after Young struck down the ban in June, at first ordering agencies to abide by the ruling but later telling them to uphold the ban after an appeals court stayed Young's ruling.
As a result, the judge named Pence as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis political science professor William Blake said legally it won't make a difference to either side, but politically, he thinks it could be positive.
"I think this may be beneficial to the governor -- if there are some that thought he didn't do enough during the legislative session to push HJR-3, it now makes him look more committed to the cause," Blake said.
The RTV6 political insiders had a different take.
"I think the judge reprimanded him pretty harshly -- I've never seen it before where a sitting governor has been spanked by a judge," former state democratic chairman Kip Tew said.
"Perhaps the governor's office should've done a few things differently when they issued out their legal opinion, especially in dealing with same-sex marriages from out of state," Editor-in-Chief of indypolitics.org Abdul-Hakim Shabazz said. "I don't think it's a Democrat or Republican issue, I think it's the judge basically not being happy with the Pence folks saying, 'hey, you told me one thing, then you did something else.'"
Pence’s communication director released a statement Wednesday:
"By law a governor exercises authority over the executive branch of government. 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."
The judge’s ruling is on hold until a federal appeals court rules on the merits of this case or another one dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage in Indiana.
The 7th Circuit Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments next Tuesday.
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