Marriage: State of confusion

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From happiness to confusion in less than a week. Scores of Indiana same-sex newlywed couples are trying to figure out what a federal court ruling on the issue means to them.

Everything about Ruth Landau and Leila Peters' life looks pretty clear - their commitment to each other, their home, their small farm and their pets. Everything, that is, but their marriage.

Like scores of other gay couples, they rushed out last week and got a marriage license, were married and celebrated. Then a federal judge reinstated Indiana's ban on same sex marriages.

"It really hurts to have a gift like this taken away." Landau admitted. "But I'm optimistic. I'm optimistic."

A little confused, as well. Gay couples married during the days the marriages were legal thought they would automatically receive the same legal and economic protections as other married couples. But the federal court's stay places doubts on their right to join their partner's medical plan, receive social security or veteran's administration benefits, make medical decisions for an ailing spouse or care for children should one of them die.

"Inheritance is a problem" Peters said.

She ought to know. The retired teacher's partner of 35 years died in 1993 after a long illness. She experienced the legal, social and healthcare issues of caring for loved one, who in the eyes of the law is completely unrelated.

Peters also wrote a book - "In Spite of Everything -- For the Woman She Loved" - about the lives of other gay couples.

Together for six years, Peters and Landau said their legal and financial affairs are in order, unless one of them dies - then the other would not get their survivor's pension.

For many gay couples accustomed to confronting controversy and questions with tough answers, Landau looked and sounded upbeat.

"Still full of promise," she said. "Still full of love. Still full of commitment. Whatever happens in court, that doesn't change."