9/21/11: Indiana May be Forced to Recognize Same Sex Marriage

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:00 — 1.4MB)

Legal claims filed by the lesbian partners of two women killed in a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair last month could lead Indiana to examine how it defines survivors in wrongful death cases despite the state’s stance against same-sex unions.

Indiana’s wrongful death statute allows next of kin to collect damages. One of the lesbian partners had registered several years ago in Hawaii as a reciprocal beneficiary, a status that confers some of the legal benefits of marriage — including survivor benefits — to unmarried couples. The other Friends had gone through a civil union in Illinois.

Indiana doesn’t recognize those acts. But the courts could choose to define next of kin more broadly to include people who live together, share bank accounts, or have children together.