Marion County clerk's office won't be open Saturday after stay granted

Published: .
Updated: .

The Marion County clerk's office says they will not be open Saturday as originally planned now that an appeals court has granted a stay that halts same-sex marriages in Indiana.

Clerk Beth White earlier announced Saturday hours to accommodate couples wishing to get married after this week's ruling that struck down Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage.

But the stay effectively puts same-sex marriages on hold, and it also puts the ones already performed this week in limbo.

Clerk Beth White says her office has already granted hundreds of marriage licenses over the past few days, the vast majority to same-sex couples. Couples rushed into county clerks before the law was put on hold, as expected.

White explained that marriage is a process: applying for the license, the ceremony, then returning the license to be recorded with her office.

"That is a step that is essential in order for it to be legal," White said, referring to the "returns."

"Because of the legal situation with this extraordinary time that we're in, people are concerned that if they don't get their licenses actually recorded, then there might be a stay issue," she said.

Because of that uncertainty, White decided to offer the opening hours on Saturday. But now that the stay has been granted, White says she'll comply with that.

"This is uncharted territory. So we don't really know except to say that the lawyers are communicating with us and making sure we know what's happening. If a stay is issued, we will stop issuing licenses immediately because the stay will be to stay our opportunity to issue licenses, and so that will tell us to stop, and We will of course comply with any court order."

A stay raises new questions: what would happen to those couples who have a license but didn't have a ceremony, or those who had a ceremony but didn't record their license?

White says she doesn't know the answer to those questions.

"People have been asking me. I am a lawyer, but we got a lot smarter lawyers than me figuring all this out," she said.

White praised her staff for putting in the extra hours to handle the large influx of people wanting to get married before a stay is issued. she says it's been a challenging week.

"I can't say enough about how hard my staff's been working...people are stepping up to do what needs to be done. This is uncharted territory for all of us," she said.

White added, "We're gonna do what's required of us by the law and we're actually happy about it. This is something I'm not only legally required to do but I personally believe it's the right thing to do," she said.

In all, 250 couples got married on Wednesday, 174 on Thursday and 66 as of noon Friday. The vast majority were same-sex couples, White said.