7th Circuit Court Of Appeals Strikes Down Marriage Bans

BTL Staff

CHICAGO - The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down same-sex marriage bans on Sept. 4 for Wisconsin and Indiana, upholding lower court decisions that the ban on marriage is a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

"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," President of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson said in a statement following the decision. "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."

Three cases were before the court from Indiana, Baskin v Bogan, Fuji v Governor and Lee v Abbott with one case from Wisconsin Wolf v Walkner. Nine days after hearing arguments in the case the federal court made its decision.

Judge Richard A. Posner, a Reagan appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel including Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Clinton appointee, and Judge David Hamilton, an Obama appointee.

"[M]ore 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," Posner wrote. "As we have been at pains to explain, the grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible."

The 7th Circuit Court is the third Court of Appeals to rule against same-sex marriage bans within the state constitutions joining the 10th Circuit Court, which struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah and the 4th Circuit Court which struck down bans in Virginia. Both Circuit Court decisions have been stayed pending action by the Supreme Court.

Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee residents are all awaiting a decision to be made in the 6th Circuit Court which heard arguments on August 6.

Walker v Wolf was represented by attorneys James Esseks of the ACLU, John Knight of the ACLU LGBT Project, Larry Dupuis of the ACLU of Wisconsin and Hans J. Germann, Gretchen E. Helfrich and Frank Dickerson from the Mayer Brown law firm.

Kenneth Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, and Camilla Taylor, the marriage project coordinator at Lambda Legal argued for the plaintiffs in the Indiana cases.

"Today we join same-sex couples, their families and our allies across the country in celebrating this victory," said John Knight, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "Every loving and committed couple in the U.S. should have the freedom to marry, protect their loved ones, and have their commitment honored by our legal system. We celebrate and tomorrow we continue the fight to make marriage equality the law of the land, not just in certain states."

U.S. Rep. from Wisconsin, Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus said that the decision puts Wisconsin back on track towards ensuring full equality for ever American and that it is clear discriminatory laws that treat LGBT couples as second-class citizens will not stand in a court of law.

"I urge Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to respect the Court's ruling and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution," continued Rep. Pocan. "In ruling after ruling, it has become unmistakable that the promise of America is everyone should be treated equally and with dignity. Today's ruling brings us one step closer to fulfilling that promise."

State officials from Wisconsin and Indiana immediately stated that they would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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