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Indiana couples await high court ruling on same-sex marriage

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Same-sex couples in Indiana who’ve flocked to the altar since courts threw out the state’s ban on gay marriage last year worry that a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling could lead to legal limbo.

The high court is expected to rule by the end of the month on whether states can limit marriage to heterosexual couples. Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are asking the court to uphold bans on same-sex marriage and allow the political process, not the courts, to handle major societal changes. But the decision would have a wide-reaching impact, especially in states like Indiana, which unsuccessfully fought to keep their bans.

After U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled last June that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause, gay couples began to get married. The exact number isn’t known because until January, applicants for marriage licenses filled out a form at their county clerk’s office that featured two lines: “bride’s name” and “groom’s name.”

The Indiana Department of Health reports that 1,147 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples from Jan. 1 to June 15 of this year. The current system for marriage licenses uses an online application form that requires each applicant to enter their name and check “male” or “female,” according to the South Bend Tribune ( ).

Support for gay marriage is rising across the country, with a Pew Research Center poll released this month showing 57 percent of Americans now favor allowing it and 39 percent oppose it. That’s a sharp swing from five years ago, when more Americans opposed same-sex marriage than supported it. The poll also showed that 72 percent of respondents said legal recognition of gay marriage is “inevitable.”

Even so, the Supreme Court’s pending decision has couples like Jennifer Weber and Arielle Schmitt of South Bend nervous. The couple had been engaged for about 18 months and thought they might have to go to Illinois to be married legally. But the court ruling allowed them to be married in Indiana on March 28.

Weber likens the debate over same-sex marriage to objections in the past about extending rights to blacks and women.

“I feel like we should have the same rights as any other couple that loves each other and wants to be together,” she said.

Schmitt said she hopes the Supreme Court will decide the issue once and for all.

“We’re always worried about it,” Schmitt said. “If it continues to go back and forth, it’s just going to leave couples in limbo.”