Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Group Sues for Same-Sex Benefits ; Evansville Officer Included

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Group Sues for Same-Sex Benefits ; Evansville Officer Included

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Evansville Police Officer Karen Kajmowicz-Vaughn is among a group of Indiana law enforcement officials suing the state in hopes of securing equal pension benefits for same-sex partners. In January, as the General Assembly was debating a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and similar civil unions in Indiana, Kajmowicz-Vaughn was among opponents who spoke in front of a full House chamber to explain how such a ban would cause uncertainty for her family.

"It's scary," Kajmowicz-Vaughn said. "She (her partner) would be left alone with the three kids and no income."

The lawsuit to which Kajmowicz-Vaughn is a party is one of five lawsuits to have been filed in federal court beginning March 7 protesting the effects of Indiana's marriage law. All were reassigned this week to U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young, who serves as Chief Judge of the Southern Indiana District Court.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said this week that he will defend the state statue under the duty of his office. Zoeller said he anticipated the cases to either be consolidated or some of the cases stayed as another is heard.

"The courts are the only ones that can say whether a statute is constitutional or not for the last decade, we've defended in state court challenges (to) whether our marriage statute violates our Indiana constitution. We've been successful in that defense," Zoeller said. "Now, the questions are whether it violates the federal constitution. I think it's important those questions be raised through the federal courts, so that we know for a fact whether this is a violation of the federal constitutional right of individuals."

The Indiana General Assembly adopted a version of the proposed amendment without language civil unions. The earliest it can go to voters is November 2016. …

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