U.S. APPEALS COURT: Indiana gay marriage ban unconstitutional - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U.S. APPEALS COURT: Indiana gay marriage ban unconstitutional

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)  -- A U.S. appeals court in Chicago has ruled that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.

Thursday's decision by a three-judge panel at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals potentially bumps the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21. The decision was unanimous.  Indiana will seek a stay, state attorney general Greg Zoeller said in a statement. The state may also appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Wisconsin will do so, its attorney general said on Thursday night.

The cases shifted to Chicago after their attorneys general appealed separate lower court rulings in June tossing the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision.

During oral arguments in August, one judge appointed by a Republican likened same-sex marriage bans to laws once barring interracial marriage. Judge Richard Posner said they derived from "hate ... and savage discrimination" of gays.

The states argued the prohibitions helped foster a centuries-old tradition.

Several of the original plaintiffs celebrated in Indianapolis, where the Indiana attorney general, whose office argued in favor of the ban, and the ACLU spoke of more questions still to come.

"When we say it's in flux, it's really in flux on the nuts and bolts side, which is extremely important and that's why we're here to win, but there's a big portion of marriage we're missing," said executive director Ken Falk.

Both Falk and Indiana's attorney general Greg Zoeller say that a stay in the case is still in effect, so county clerks will not be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the state of Indiana will continue not to recognize such marriages from other states.

Zoeller's office is advising county clerks to issue licenses to opposite-sex couples only.

Clark County's clerk is awaiting final word from her county attorney.

She issued licenses and married couples after the first ruling in June.

"I feel sadness, at least for those couples that we married in that two days and a half that it was legal. They have been in limbo all this time, and I would like to see them get some kind of final decision whether or not theirs is valid," said Clark County Clerk Barbara Bratcher Haas.

The appeals court judges took nine days to prepare their ruling. A New Albany man who lobbied to overturn the Indiana ban says the speed of the ruling reflects the strengths of supporters' arguments -- and the opposite for opponents.

"The state's arguments were very weak," Larry Summers told WDRB News. "We've won the battle. All three judges agreed. We're moving forward. I'm just ecstatic." Summers married his husband in another state.

Summers expects the Supreme Court to hear arguments as early as its fall term and rule by the middle of next year.

"Hopefully, for the interests of everyone on both sides of these cases, the Supreme Court will make a ruling sooner rather than later," Zoeller said in a statement.

Late Thursday, 32 states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the issue once and for all.

Indiana and Kentucky are not among them.

A decision from a federal appeals court on Kentucky's ban could come any day now.

Read the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling here: http://bit.ly/1vTzuKg.

Copyright 2014 by WDRB News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed material to this story.

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