While the US Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the law that denied same-sex couples federal recognition, the US state of Indiana has passed a law that would result in gay couples being jailed for up to 18 months if they attempt to apply for a marriage license.
Politicians in the Republican state have amended a 1997 law increasing the prison sentence for furnishing false information on a marriage license, which is a Class D felony. This means that same-sex couples who apply for a marriage license could face up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 if they attempt to apply for a marriage license. The new law also means that a clergyman, judge, mayor, city clerk or town clerk-treasurer that officiates at a marriage of a gay couple will also be jailed for a year and a half.
The law means that campaigners such as the Campaign for Southern Equality’s ‘We Do’ Campaign, that encourages same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses as a protest will be prevented from doing so.
This week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence has apologised after a series of pro-equal marriage comments by ‘fans’ were deleted from his official Facebook page by staff members.
In 2011, the Indiana Senate approved a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and civil unions by 40 votes to 10. The public gallery had to be cleared after gay rights protesters shouted at politicians.
Male homosexuality was made legal in 1977 and same-sex couples have been able to adopt following a 2006 court ruling. However, LGBT people are afforded no legal protections against discrimination on the grounds of their sexuality by private employers. State employees have been protected following an executive order in 2004.
Same-sex marriage is legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. 31 other states have a constitutional ban on gay couples marrying.