A federal appeals court on Thursday
struck down gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in
Chicago is the first federal appeals court since the Supreme Court
struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year to
unanimously strike down a state ban.
The 3-judge panel heard arguments in
the cases just last week.
Lawyers representing Wisconsin and
Indiana are defending restrictive marriage bans struck down by lower
federal courts in June.
Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan
appointee, who wrote the ruling, poured water on the states' main
argument that “the only reason government encourages marriage is to
induce heterosexuals to marry so that there will be fewer 'accidental
“Overlooked by this argument,”
wrote, “is that many of those abandoned children are adopted by
homosexual couples, and those children would be better off both
emotionally and economically if their adoptive parents were married.”
“[T]he governments of Indiana and
Wisconsin have given us no reason to think they have a 'reasonable
basis' for forbidding same-sex marriage. And more than a reasonable
basis is required because this is a case in which the challenged
discrimination is … 'along suspect lines.'”
Posner also chided Wisconsin, saying
that “one wouldn't know, reading Wisconsin's brief, that there is
or ever has been discrimination against homosexuals anywhere in the
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to
Marry, applauded the ruling, comparing it against a federal judge's
ruling upholding Louisiana's ban.
judge upholds Louisiana's gay marriage ban; says it's “anchored to
“Today’s sharp and scathing ruling
demolishes the arguments and unsubstantiated claims made by opponents
of the freedom to marry, repeated in the outlier decision out of
Louisiana yesterday, and affirms what nearly 40 other federal and
state courts have found: the denial of the freedom to marry inflicts
real harms and is constitutionally indefensible,” Wolfson said.
“Judge Posner's authoritative opinion points the way, and the
Supreme Court should move swiftly now to end marriage discrimination
nationwide, without prolonging the harms and indignity that too many
couples continue to endure in too much of the country.”
(Thanks to Equality
Case Files for providing briefs.)