According to his campaign website, Indiana Governor Mike Pence has been a “strong voice for fiscal responsibility, smaller government and economic growth throughout his career.” Which is why, presumably, the state has spent $1.4 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys to maintain a ban on same-sex marriage.
Indiana first instituted a ban on performing same-sex marriages in the state—and recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states—in 1997. As time moves on from the ugly legal discrimination that marked the ’90s, more and more states have changed their policies, which makes Indiana’s refusal to recognize these legal marriages even more difficult.
But in 2014, everything started to change. In June, a federal district court ruled that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Indiana appealed to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case, and this effectively legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
In addition to the obvious social implications of the case, this also meant that the state had to pay the plaintiffs’ fees for the lawyers involved in each of these cases. The most costly involved a couple, Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who fought to recognize their legal marriage as Quasney was dying of cancer. The state also lost cases involving a widow, Midori Fujii, who could not make funeral arrangements for her wife that she married in California. There were also four public servants who sought to have their spouses recognized as beneficiaries for their pension plans and various other individuals who wished to get legally married in the state.
Of course, despite spending all this money to be clearly on the wrong side of history, the Indiana state government still has yet to learn its lesson, as evidenced by passing the infamous “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which, even in its watered down form, is a black eye for the state.
As Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully points out, the damage has already started. Hosting events remains the lifeblood of the Indianapolis economy, and more and more expositions have now decided to take their business elsewhere.
For example, Indianapolis recently lost out on a bid to host the 2018 and 2019 International Association of Fairs and Expositions convention, a decision that Visit Indy, the city’s convention arm, directly attributes to the RFRA. While the tourism bureau is promoting a campaign that states everyone is welcome in the city, the damage is already done.
Maybe Indiana could just launch a GoFundMe account to pay for its legal fees and lost revenue? That somehow worked for Memories Pizza.