Niki Quasney, one of the plaintiffs in the marriage equality lawsuit in Indiana, died Thursday, Feb. 5, after battling ovarian cancer for more than five years. She was 38 years old.
In a press release issued Sunday, Feb. 8, a spokesperson for Lambda Legal said that Quasney died with her wife, Amy Sandler, her mother and five siblings at her side. Lambda Legal represented Quasney and Sandler in their successful challenge to Indiana’s marriage equality ban.
Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul Castillo said in the press release: “Niki and Amy and their daughters became Indiana’s first family when they bravely joined Lambda Legal’s marriage case, which meant openly sharing very personal and painful parts of their journey together as Niki battled cancer. They brought this case and fought so hard because they loved each other and wanted their daughters to be treated with respect, just like any other family in Indiana.
“They also fought for all same-sex couples and their children in Indiana. They never wanted to be alone in recognition of their family. They knew that by coming forward they could help accelerate equality for all same-sex couples in Indiana by demonstrating the urgency of their need for equal dignity.”
Castillo also noted: “To date, this marriage case was the fastest, from filing to victory, through a federal circuit court. The courts were touched by Niki’s and Amy’s story, and accelerated not just Indiana’s marriage cases, but Wisconsin’s as well. The opinion from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals was one of the most scathing attacks on marriage bans from a court. Niki and Amy’s bravery made history.
“Niki told the court: ‘If my life is cut short because of ovarian cancer, I want our children to know that their parents were treated like other married couples in their home state, and to be proud of this. I want to know what it feels like to be a legally recognized family in our community, together with Amy and our daughters.’
“Niki spent the last year of her life on earth very publicly fighting for her family and doing everything she could to make sure that her wife and daughters were protected. Although our hearts are heavy, we celebrate Niki’s life and take comfort in knowing that Niki and her family were able to know — through their own efforts — what equality feels like. We thank Niki and Amy for their courage to stand up for their family and lead the fight for marriage in Indiana. We all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.”