CHICAGO (AP) - A U.S. appeals court in Chicago has ruled that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.
Thursday's decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals bumps the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21. The decision was unanimous.
The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after their attorneys general appealed separate lower court rulings in June tossing the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision.
During oral arguments in August, one judge appointed by a Republican likened same-sex marriage bans to laws once barring interracial marriage. Judge Richard Posner said they derived from "hate ... and savage discrimination" of gays.
The states argued the prohibitions helped foster a centuries-old tradition.
Statement from Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller
The State of Indiana will seek a stay -- as has been granted in other federal circuit rulings -- of the 7th Circuit’s ruling today that found Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, pending the expected review by the United States Supreme Court.
“It seems clear that a final resolution of the constitutional issues involving states’ authority over their marriage licenses will need a decision from our nation's highest court. Since the Supreme Court has already issued stay orders in two Circuit decisions, it seems appropriate that today's decision also be stayed. Hopefully, for the interests of everyone on both sides of these cases, the Supreme Court will make a ruling sooner rather than later."
Statement from Hoosiers Unite for Marriage
“We are incredibly grateful that the appellate court ruled swiftly in favor of Indiana couples who are or want to be legally married in our state. This ruling means so much to the plaintiffs in this case and all couples who have long sought the same protections under law that other Hoosier families already have.
“We know that this is not likely to be the last step on the road to marriage equality, but today, love wins in Indiana.”
Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement regarding Thursday's ruling by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals:
“I’m grateful for the efforts of the Attorney General to defend Indiana's marriage laws before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. I have instructed my General Counsel to carefully review this decision. While I continue to hope that the right of the state of Indiana to enact laws concerning the institution of marriage will be upheld when this matter reaches the Supreme Court of the United States, Hoosiers may be assured, as my administration has done throughout this case, we will continue to uphold the rule of law in all executive branch operations as this matter moves to the highest court in the land."
Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R–Fort Wayne) issued the following statement regarding Thursday's federal court ruling on Indiana’s marriage statute:
“While I continue to believe that this issue should be decided state by state, it’s not surprising that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled this way, given the trend of similar rulings around the country. I have said all along that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have to step in on this issue, and today’s ruling reaffirms that belief. It is important for the Supreme Court to take up this issue as quickly as possible in order to clear up the chaos and uncertainty created by the various federal court rulings."
South Bend Deputy Mayor Mark Neal:
"I am very pleased with the U.S. appeals court ruling today. I agree with the judges’ ruling that same-sex couples should have access to marriage benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples. Prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination, and I’m happy to hear that all Indiana adults can officially commit their lives to those they love.”
From the ACLU of Indiana:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit today upheld the June 25 ruling in U.S. District Court striking down the law banning marriage in Indiana for same-sex couples.
"The only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction - that same-sex couples and their children don't need marriage because same-sex couples can't produce children, intended or unintended - is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously," said Judge Richard Posner in the opinion he authored on behalf of a three-judge panel that included Judge Ann Claire Williams and Judge David Hamilton.
The June ruling by Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana struck down Indiana's ban on marriage for same-sex couples and recognition for marriages performed outside the state on the grounds that it violated due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said "We are ecstatic that the court recognized what we have always maintained: That there is absolutely no justification for treating same-sex couples any differently than loving couples of opposite genders."
"The hollow excuses offered by the States of Indiana and Wisconsin could not defend the States' refusal to let loving couples and their families enjoy the benefits and dignity of marriage," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana executive director. "We are grateful that the Court has solidly exposed this harmful discrimination against same-sex couples."
"Today we join same sex couples, their families and our allies across the country in celebrating this victory," said John Knight, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "Every loving and committed couple in the U.S. should have the freedom to marry, protect their loved ones, and have their commitment honored by our legal system. We celebrate and tomorrow we continue the fight to make marriage equality the law of the land, not just in certain states."
Kenneth Falk, Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana argued in Midori Fujii, et al. v. Indiana Governor, et al. James Esseks argued for the American Civil Liberties Union in Walker v. Wolf. He was joined by Hans J. Germann, Gretchen E. Helfrich and Frank Dickerson from the law firm of Mayer Brown. The ruling was entered in the Indiana Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Sept. 4, 2014 under Case: 14-2386.