INDIANAPOLIS | Attorney General Greg Zoeller is confident he can defend Indiana's laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples and denying recognition to gay marriages performed elsewhere against five federal lawsuits filed this month seeking to have the statutes declared unconstitutional.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday, the Republican attorney general said he expects at least some of the cases -- spurred in part by federal courts striking down similar laws in other states -- will be consolidated or delayed to save time.
Regardless, Zoeller said he is ready to defend every state law, and the right of the General Assembly and governor to enact them, against any and all challenges, since that is his job and a key feature of American government.
"There ought to be some opportunity to make sure that the Legislature has got it right -- did it violate the Constitution, did it impinge on people's civil liberties?" Zoeller said.
"This is part of the process to bring the courts in to review, to make sure the statutes we have in place are constitutional."
Among those seeking to overturn Indiana's marriage laws are Bonnie Everly and Lyn Judkins, of Chesteron, who want to be married in Indiana; and Dawn Carver and Pam Eanes, of Munster, who want their Illinois civil union recognized by Indiana.
Zoeller said the lawsuits will not put an undue burden on his staff, since they already participate in thousands of legal cases a year.
He said he has no plans to hire outside counsel to assist in the defense of Indiana's marriage laws because his office previously has defended them successfully in state courts and has submitted arguments in other federal challenges to state marriage laws.
"I think we're as well prepared to defend the statutes as any attorney general in the nation," Zoeller said.