Tragedy could prompt federal gay marriage in the United States, and Australian gay advocates soothe clergy

Los Angeles Times: Chicago resident Alisha Brennon is wheeled out of the Kenneth J. Allen & Associates conference room. Brennon was speaking about a possible wrongful death injury lawsuit over Brennon’s partner and spouse Christina Santiago, right. (Kyle Telechan / The Times / September 26, 2011)

Some good could come from immense tragedy. Legal experts say Indiana State Fair’s stage collapse gave federally recognized gay marriage’s prospects a stronger foundation, according to

Alisha Brennon of Chicago is the test litigant. Brennon has filed a suit in connection with the death of her partner Christina Santiago. Since the tragedy happened in Indiana, stark differences between laws in the Land of Lincoln and Hoosier state are highlighted.

Defendants could effectively put Brennon and Santiago’s civil union on trial, the Chicago Tribune reported. Establishing whether their union remained legal after entering Indiana would be the central question.

“It’s an inevitable legal battle,” said Andrew Koppelman, a professor of family law at Northwestern University Law School. “It has to happen. They’re going to give her money as this woman’s spouse, so someone has to say whether you get to give it to her or not.

Brennon’s ability to claim compensation hinges on whether her civil union with Santiago is valid. Defendants could very well use it to get the case thrown out.

Gay marriage advocates down under soothed clergy. They assured Australia’s Catholic bishops that ministers wouldn’t be forced to perform same-sex marriages, once legal, according to International Business Times.

Perth Archbishop Barry Hickey’s threat to stop performing marriages prompted the move.

“When the law changes to permit same-sex couples to marry, Catholic celebrants will not be forced to perform such marriages,” Australian Marriage Equality spokesperson Rodney Croome said. “Just as they are currently not forced to marry divorcees or non-Catholics.”