Indiana same-sex marriage ban goes before federal appeals court

The debate over same-sex marriage in Indiana moved to Illinois today.

“This is just something we never thought we’d see in our lifetime,” said same-sex supporter Darrell Blasius, of Kokomo.

Judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago took up the constitutionality of Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage supporters won the first round of the legal battle last summer when a federal district court judge in Evansville struck down the Indiana law.

Today’s oral arguments lasted about an hour and 40 minutes and were quite spirited. “It felt like it went extraordinarily well,” said Attorney Camilla Taylor with Lambda Legal. “It felt like the court was not persuaded at all with the arguments put forward by the state.”

The appeals court judges spent just about as much time talking as they did listening. Attorneys from Indiana and Wisconsin filed the appeal and were peppered with questions that placed a strong emphasis on what’s best for kids.

On one hand, the State of Indiana contends that marriage is a way to persuade heterosexual couples faced with unintended pregnancy to stay together and to raise a child.

On the other hand—Indiana same-sex couples aren’t allowed to marry—yet they are allowed to adopt.

“What about the kids? What about the kids of same-sex couples? And wouldn’t marriage help them and their parents?” said ACLU Attorney James Essecks. “Of course it will.”

Government attorneys also had a hard time explaining what specific harm would be caused to society by letting same sex couples marry.

“Well, there were a lot of questions about what harm there is to the state from allowing same sex couples to marry and the State of Indiana and Wisconsin could offer no suggestions,” said Attorney Camilla Taylor.

One of the plaintiffs on hand today is a Michigan City native who now lives in Chesterton with her partner of 14 years.

“Today is just like a mile marker in our lives, hopefully they'll go ahead and lift the marriage ban so we can go ahead and be married and keep it that way,” said Bonnie Everly. “If they don't, we'll go all the way to Washington, D.C. We're not going to stop now.”

“For this to end,” added Everly’s partner Lynn Judkin, “For this to end in the court proceedings but that is just our beginning. Our beginning for our freedom and our right to be able to walk hand in hand, to make decisions for each other, our life threatening decisions, our burial rights, for me to be able to be buried next to her, but I probably won’t be able to if we’re not married.”

Bruce and Darrell Blasius are not plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but they have been together for 38 years and attended the oral arguments to see history in the making. “It’s just really neat to watch this come about, finally,” said Bruce Blasius.

“To have the rights that other couples have, this is really, this is what we’d like to see this happen,” said Darrell Blasius.

The appeals court did not make a decision today but took the case under advisement.

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