Prison Awaits Same-Sex Couples Who Try to Get Married in Indiana

Jen (L) and Rose Nagle-Yndigoyed hold hands as they exchange wedding vows in Central Park on July 30, 2011 in New York City. Nearly a week after New York State legalized same-sex marriages gay couples have been marrying throughout the state.     UPI /Monika Graff (National Journal)

Don't apply for a marriage license in Indiana if you're a same-sex couple. You might end up in prison.

Some groups, including the Campaign for Southern Equality, were encouraging same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses in states that ban same-sex unions as a protest. But now that protest would come at a price.

Lawmakers in the Hoosier State have updated a 1997 law that makes it a felony to falsify information on marriage license. So, any couple of the same sex filling out those forms would automatically violate the law since there are only sections for one male and one female.

The law now states that it is a Level 6 felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. The old law had a punishment of up to three years in prison.

It's unclear if Hoosiers were actually breaking this law, according to The Northwest Indiana Times, but the updated law will take effect on July 1 of next year.

And the law doesn't stop with just the folks getting married. It also applies to the people — whether they are a judge, local official, or member of the clergy — who conduct gay-marriage ceremonies. They could face a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in prison.

Currently, lawmakers in Indiana are debating whether to ban same-sex marriage under the state's constitution. It's already banned by law. The Times outlines the next steps for that amendment:

The Republican-controlled General Assembly must decide during the January-March 2014 legislative session whether to submit the proposed constitutional amendment — which also prohibits any form of civil unions — to Hoosier voters for ratification.

If lawmakers approve the amendment, supported by Gov. Mike Pence and other top Republican leaders, the question of a constitutional gay marriage ban will be on the Nov. 4, 2014, general-election ballot.

Same-sex marriage is currently allowed in California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Thirty-one other states have banned same-sex marriage under their constitutions.

CORRECTION: This post now includes all states that have legalized same-sex marriage.