Friday, September 05, 2014
Ind. Decisions - Coverage of yesterday's 7th Circuit ruling on same-sex marriage
Indiana's argument for prohibiting same-sex marriage is "totally implausible," a federal appeals court ruled Thursday in upholding a lower court's ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.Niki Kelly's long story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is headed "Indiana gay marriage ban shot down." It begins:
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court's decision, though, doesn't clear the way for same-sex couples to wed in Indiana. A stay against the initial ruling remains in effect. * * *
The three-judge panel's ruling, which also decided a similar case in Wisconsin, was at times harsh in its assessment of the state's rational for banning gay marriage.
"The grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible," said the ruling, written by Justice Richard Posner, who was appointed to the appeals court by former President Ronald Reagan.
"The governments of Indiana and Wisconsin have given us no reason to think they have a 'reasonable basis' for forbidding same-sex marriage," Posner wrote. "And more than a reasonable basis is required."
Posner said Indiana's argument that "thousands of years of collective experience has [sic] established traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, as optimal for the family, society, and civilization" was not supported by evidence.
"Formally these cases are about discrimination against the small homosexual minority in the United States," he wrote. "But at a deeper level ... they are about the welfare of American children."
The judges found fault in the argument Indiana pressed hardest. That the only reason government encourages marriage is to induce heterosexuals to marry so there will be fewer accidental births and abandoned children, the court said, overlooks the reality that many such unwanted children are adopted by gay parents.
"Those children would be better off both emotionally and economically," the ruling said, "if their adoptive parents were married."
The ruling also said: "More than unsupported conjecture that same-sex marriage will harm heterosexual marriage or children or any other valid and important interest of a state is necessary to justify discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation." * * *
Indiana's current ban on gay marriage remains in place — trapped in a sort of legal limbo where it has been declared unconstitutional but remains in force while the appeals process works through the courts. That means county clerks will not be allowed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as they did during a three-day window in June after U.S. District Judge Richard Young first struck down the Indiana law but before the appellate court issued its stay.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday issued a lightning-fast ruling declaring Indiana's and Wisconsin's gay marriage ban implausible and unconstitutional. It came nine days after the states' cases were argued before the three-judge panel.
“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 ruling said.
Ken Falk, attorney for the ACLU of Indiana, smiled widely at a news conference and said the ruling came “fairly quick.”
He said the original stay in the case is still in effect, which means no same-sex marriages can currently occur in Indiana.
“This is a very good day, continuing a streak of very good days,” said Falk, who appreciated the court pointing out how silly the arguments against gay marriage are.
The unanimous ruling, written by Judge Richard Posner, said the ban violates the federal equal protection clause by denying homosexuals a right that is granted to heterosexuals – the right to marry an unmarried adult of their choice
“The discrimination against same-sex couples is irrational, and therefore unconstitutional,” the decision said.
Posner was sometimes almost tongue-in-cheek while refuting the arguments for the ban.
“Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 5, 2014 09:22 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions