INDIANAPOLIS | A same-sex couple applying for a marriage license in Indiana, where gay marriage is expressly prohibited by law, could face up to three years in prison for submitting the application to their county clerk -- even if it's denied.
A 1997 state law declares it a Class D felony to submit false information on a marriage license application or lie about the physical condition, including gender, of a marriage license applicant.
Two men or two women seeking to marry inevitably would trigger the law, as the state's electronic marriage license application specifically designates "male applicant" and "female applicant" sections for gathering required background data.
It's not known how often Hoosiers, gay or straight, are prosecuted for submitting false information on a marriage license application.
In any case, the recently approved reform of the state's criminal code will, starting July 1, 2014, drop the crime to a Level 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of 18 months in prison and a potential fine of up to $10,000.
The law also penalizes clergyman, judge, mayor, city clerk or town clerk-treasurer who solemnizes a marriage between two people of the same gender. Those who conduct a gay marriage ceremony can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.