CHICAGO (WISH) – A federal appeals court has ruled Indiana’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The ruling was handed down late Thursday, less than two weeks after arguments were made before a three-judge panel.
The 40-page ruling affirms a lower-court ruling against the ban. Read the full ruling below.
The unanimous opinion cites Indiana and Wisconsin “among the shrinking majority of states that do not recognize the validity of same-sex marriages,” and upholds district court rulings in both states.
“This is a very good day, continuing a steak of very good days,” Ken Falk, Legal Director for ALCU of Indiana, said.
There was a celebration inside the ACLU Thursday afternoon.
“The court obviously has expedited this case from the very beginning and we certainly were hopeful for an expedited decision and we certainly got one,” Falk said.
After just nine days, including the Labor Day weekend, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals quickly sided with same-sex Hoosiers.
“Love won again today. It’s all we’ve been asking for and validated and that our family who has loved each other for a long, long time now has been validated by the court,” Rob Macpherson said.
Macpherson and Steven Stolen are just one of hundreds already married same-sex couples fighting to be recognized.
“How about our 16-year-old daughter, who has been with us since she left the hospital, can say her parents are married,” Stolen said.
But this decision does not make that possible. That’s because the 7th Circuit Court has not issued a mandate, therefore the stay issued back in June halting same-sex marriages, is still in place.
“Yeah that’s a little disappointing,” said Melody Betterman, Layne, another plaintiff in the case.
That means marriage licenses cannot be issued to same-sex couples and out-of-state gay marriages are still unrecognized.
“I anticipate the state will ask for the U.S. Supreme Court to take this case,” Falk said.
Only then will the decision be final. Still, these couples say they already made a final decision, when they said “I do.”
“Every time we have these decisions it does, it adds a little more joy to the day that we had together, so we’re going to keep pushing forward until it’s officially recognized,” Greg Hasty said.
The state of Indiana has 90 days from Thursday to file a request for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.
There is already a long line of circuit court appeals waiting on the Supreme Court which reconvenes the first Monday in October. It’s unclear if and when they would respond to Indiana’s potential appeal.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller quickly said the state will seek a stay in the ruling. He also said it’s an issue the U.S. Supreme Court will have to settle.
“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,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a news release.
In the opinion, Judge Richard Posner wrote that the two cases are “rich in detail, but ultimately straight-forward to decide. The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and 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.”
The American Civil Liberties Association of Indiana, which represented plaintiffs in the lawsuit, tweeted “we won!” after the ruling was handed down.