County clerk: Same-sex couples would not be prosecuted for filling out form

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It's a law that has been on the books for 16 years, but it's getting a lot of attention now.

Will same-sex couples who fill out a marriage license application face perjury charges?

Wednesday was a normal day at the Marion County Clerk's office with Indiana couples coming down to fill out a marriage license application.

A couple stands at the counter as the clerk turns a video monitor showing their marriage application toward them.

You can fill out an application online these days. Since it is against the law for a same-sex couple to be married in Indiana, the form requests information from a male applicant and a female applicant. It's a law that has been on the books since 1997.

Sitting in her library of her home in Lawrence, Mary Kennedy understands the law but doesn't accept it.

"How far away is it from saying you are gay, you don't matter. Or saying you are Jewish, you don't matter. You have buck teeth, you don't matter. You have freckles, you don't matter. It's not that far," she said.

Beth White is the Marion County Clerk.

"It has always been a crime to falsify information on a government document. It is illegal. It is considered a crime," said White.

The violation carries a possible penalty of six months to three years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. So if a same-sex couple completed an application would they be charged with providing false information?

David Orentlicher is a law professor at the Indiana University law school.

"That is not going to happen. We know because the law has been on the books a long time and it hasn't happened and we have had a court case about same sex marriage without any criminal prosecution," said Orentlicher.

Clerk White echoed that sentiment.

"It comes down to simply being denied. We have no interest in doing anything else about any of this," said White.

Ultimately any decision to prosecute rests with prosecutors but if same-sex couples fill out the application using their real names and clearly identifying their sex, then they are not misrepresenting themselves. The application would still be denied but it would not be illegal.