A three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has ruled—in a unanimous decision—that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional, bringing the number of states in which same-sex partners can marry to 21.
From the Associated Press:
Thursday's 40-page ruling sharply criticized the reasons both states gave for the bans, saying, "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."
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 reinstating 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.
The decision came just nine days after oral arguments—during which Judge (and sometime Slate columnist) Richard Posner, a moderate conservative and Republican appointee, likened the ban to outlawing interracial marriage.
The court wrote that granting official same-sex marriage rights “will enhance the status of these marriages in the eyes of other Americans, and in the long run it may convert some of the opponents of such marriage by demonstrating that homosexual married couples are in essential respects, notably in the care of their adopted children, like other married couples.”