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July 10, 2014

Local same-sex marriages in limbo after decision

LOOGOOTEE — Like many same-sex couples throughout the state, Tim and Tracy Brown-Salsman, along with James Pirkle II and his partner, wait to see if their marriages will be like everyone else's —legal.

Wednesday, the chief counsel to Gov. Mike Pence instructed state agencies to not recognize the same-sex marriages and licenses issued during three days last month after a federal judge struck down Indiana's same-sex marriage ban.

In a memo, counsel Mark Ahearn said all executive branches "are to execute their functions as though the U.S. District Court order of June 25 had not been issued."

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young's June 25 ruling has been stayed while it is being heard in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. But while the case, and many others like it, will eventually be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court, local same-sex couples are trying to move ahead.

Tim Brown-Salsman recalled another civil rights fight in the past when asked about Pence's decision.

"My opinion is Gov. Pence is the same as (Alabama) Gov. (George) Wallace at the time in trying to deny our civil rights," Tim said. "We don't take much stock in his opinion."

Tim and partner Tracy Brown-Salsman had been together for 26 years before being the first same-sex couple in Martin County to wed. Since that small civil wedding in Judge Lynne Ellis' courtroom, the couple have been waiting on other agencies to recognize their marriage.

Their first problem was at the Social Security office, where they tried to change their last names to Brown-Salsman. The agents at the office said they were directed to save the couple's request until the outcome of Indiana's court case.

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