UPDATE: Via the Muncie Star Press.
A U.S. appeals court in Chicago ruled Thursday that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution — thereby bumping the number of states where gay marriage will be legal from 19 to 21. The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is yet another in a series of courtroom wins for gay-marriage advocates. Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriages bans unconstitutional. The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after attorneys general in the states appealed separate lower court rulings in June that tossed the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision on the cases, which were considered simultaneously. Between the bans being struck down and the order restating them as the appeals process ran its course, hundreds of gay couple in both states rushed to marry. Those marriages could have been jeopardized had the 7th Circuit restored the bans.
UPDATE II: Freedom To Marry reacts.
“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. 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.”
UPDATE III: Lambda Legal reacts:
The decision, written by Justice Posner, contained strong language highlighting the importance of marriage for the children of same-sex couples: “Because homosexuality is not a voluntary condition and homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world, the disparagement of their sexual orientation, implicit in the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, is a source of continuing pain to the homosexual community.”
“The court has affirmed the love and commitment our plaintiffs and thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana and Wisconsin have for each other. The unanimous decision also reinforces the importance of marriage for the children of same-sex couples, who shouldn’t have to grow up thinking their families are inferior to other families,” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “Today’s ruling adds to the incredible legal momentum for marriage we are seeing in courts across the country; it is a joyous day for freedom and justice in the Midwest.”