Court declares Wisconsin and Indiana same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional

In a unanimous decision, the Seventh Circuit upped the number of states that recognize marriage equality to 21

Topics: Associated Press, Same-sex marriage, Marriage equality, Wisconsin, Indiana, seventh circuit court of appeals, appeals court, Marriage, lgbt equality, LGBT Rights, , ,

Court declares Wisconsin and Indiana same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional(Credit: AP/John Hart)

CHICAGO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court in Chicago ruled Thursday that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution — thereby bumping the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21.

The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is yet another in a series of courtroom wins for gay-marriage advocates. Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriages bans unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after attorneys general in the states appealed separate lower court rulings in June that tossed the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision on the cases, which were considered simultaneously.

Between the bans being struck down and the order restating them as the appeals process ran its course, hundreds of gay couple in both states rushed to marry. Those marriages could have been jeopardized had the 7th Circuit restored the bans.

During arguments before the appellate court in August, Republican appointee Judge Richard Posner likened same-sex marriage bans to now-defunct laws that once outlawed interracial marriage. They derived from “hate” and “savage discrimination” of gays, he said.

But states argued that the prohibitions helped foster a centuries-old tradition of marriage between men and women, and that the regulation of the institution of marriage was a tool for society to attempt to prevent pregnancies out of wedlock.

A constitutional amendment approved in 2006 by voters banned gay marriage in Wisconsin, while state law prohibited it in Indiana. Neither state recognized same-sex marriages performed in others states.

In court filings, attorneys representing Wisconsin and Indiana argued that nothing in the U.S. Constitution prevented them from implementing and enforcing the bans. Gay-marriage advocates said they violated equal protection guarantees.

In addition to Posner — whom Ronald Reagan appointed in 1981 — the judges on the 7th Circuit panel included 2009 Barack Obama appointee David Hamilton and Ann Claire Williams, a 1999 Bill Clinton appointee.

The states could now appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but there’s no guarantee the high court would agree to take up their cases.

The sharply critical tone struck by Posner and other judges about the bans during oral arguments on Aug. 26 suggested the panel leaned in favor of the pro-gay marriage side.



Judge Posner at times expressed annoyance with Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson as he repeatedly cited tradition as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

Posner also ran through a list of psychological strains children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to account to classmates why their parents were not married.

Pro-gay marriage lawyers did struggle to answer questions about where they would draw the line between who could and couldn’t marry — and why. Hamilton noted that advocates of overturning bans on polygamy have made similar arguments to ones gay marriage advocates are making, including that children who acknowledge several moms or dads suffer when their multiple parents can’t marry.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...