The decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Indiana’s gay marriage ban was swift and unanimous. The 3-judge panel of David Hamilton, Richard Posner, and Ann Claire Williams were in unified voice after taking just nine days to deliberate and write their decision affirming the U.S. District Court’s ruling that Indiana’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Judge Posner, who authored the decision on behalf of his colleagues, made their position very clear in words that have been repeatedly posted, shared and tweeted on social media.
"The only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction - that same-sex couples and their children don't need marriage because same-sex couples can't produce children, intended or unintended - is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously."
And as a result, gay couples celebrated the decision, just as they had on June 25 when Judge Young’s order became public.
Unfortunately, the celebrations were a bit more subdued.
When couples went to the Marion County Clerk’s office to obtain a marriage license and enter wedded bliss, they were reluctantly turned away. Clerk Beth White issued this statement:
“I am committed to the issue of marriage equality but must respect the court’s decision on this matter. After reviewing of the decision as well as listening to statements made by the litigants in this case, it is this office’s understanding the 7th Circuit did not overturn the current stay upholding Indiana’s unconstitutional law on same-sex marriage.”
White’s understanding of the situation was echoed in other statements from the Attorney General’s office and the ACLU of Indiana. While the court declared the law unconstitutional, they made no move to lift their stay on Judge Young’s initial order that specifically instructed the state and all relevant agencies not to stand in the way of same sex couples pursuing marriage and to recognize those already married in other states.
So as a result, those marriages that took place in a whirlwind three days in June and others that were solemnized in other states remain in legal purgatory.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller immediately stated that he would seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court in the event the 7th Circuit issues a mandate ordering Indiana to recognize same sex marriage. There is already speculation from many on both sides of the issue that a mandate may not come in order to hold the current stay in place, assuming the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue within the next year. Stays remain in place in previous cases that went before the 4th and 10th Circuit Courts. And a recent decision upholding the ban in Louisiana creates enough dissent on the issue to make way for the U.S. Supreme Court to address it.
So, with the stay still in place for the moment despite the decision, marriages like Austin Armacost and Jake Lees remain unrecognized in Indiana. Spouses like Beth Piette and Candy Batton-Lee are still ineligible for the pension benefits of their wives in public safety.
Both the celebration and the fight continue.
And for the record, Austin and Jake will remain in Indiana.
“Immediately when we heard we knew that Indiana was now, and truly is our home. We can now be proud to say we are Hoosiers. The opinions of our leaders (Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, and Governor Mike Pence) are so outdated and out of touch with the current climate of our state. Our world is moving forward, and we can now be a part of that movement.”