Last week, a federal appeals court in Chicago upheld lower court rulings that struck down the same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. The decision was notable, in part, because the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals often takes months to issue a decision but the decision in this case was issued just nine days after oral arguments took place.
The case was also notable because it refuted the longstanding argument that the bans should be upheld in order to protect children and families. Instead, Judge Richard Posner wrote on behalf of the panel of judges that it is the gay marriage bans that are harmful on children because children of same-sex couples are denied the financial and psychological benefits of having parents who are married.
Further, in agreeing with the lower courts that the bans are discriminatory, Judge Posner, called the gay community one of the most “misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world” and said “[t]o exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status.”
Not surprisingly, opponents of same-sex marriage have expressed disapproval over the decision. The president of a national Christian public policy group called Family Research Council said he was “very troubled” that the court did not acknowledge each child’s right to a mother and father. He also questioned the court’s “constitutional authority to unilaterally change the definition of our most fundamental social institution.”
Lawyers for both Indiana and Wisconsin have said that they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Several additional cases involving same-sex marriage bans from other states have already asked the nation’s highest court for a final ruling. According to reports, the earliest the Supreme Court could rule on any of the cases would be next summer.
Last week’s ruling does not affect Illinois, as same-sex marriage has been legal here since June. That means same-sex couples can get married, file for divorce and legally adopt children in the state.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Court: Same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Wisconsin unconstitutional,” Jason Meisner and Annie Sweeney, Sept. 4, 2014