Feb 9 (Reuters) - An Indiana woman who challenged the state's ban on same-sex marriage while she was dying of cancer, seeking legal recognition so that she and her partner could make plans for their two toddlers' futures, has died.
Niki Quasney, 38, died on Thursday after suffering from ovarian cancer for five years, according to a statement from Lambda Legal, an organization that fights for equality for lesbians and gays.
Quasney and Amy Sandler had a civil union in Illinois in 2011 and were married in Massachusetts in 2013. They were living in Munster, in northwest Indiana, to be close to Quasney's family because of her cancer.
Along with other couples, they filed suit against Indiana, seeking legal recognition for their marriage.
"Niki and Amy's bravery made history," Lambda Legal said, noting that the suit the couple joined was the fastest same-sex marriage case from filing to victory through a federal circuit court.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September struck down gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin, saying they violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under law.
Gay weddings in Indiana started in October.
"When you fight for what you believe in, even during the difficult of times in your life, that there's always hope," Sandler told Reuters in an interview in October, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up appeals, leaving intact the 7th Circuit Court ruling and others. She said she and Quasney were very heartened by that decision.
Since then the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments for both sides and to decide if states can ban gay marriages. (Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)