TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional. The decision from the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was issued just nine days after oral arguments.
But it doesn’t mean that county clerks can start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, at least not yet.
The release of the ruling was expected to take weeks, perhaps even months for plaintiffs like Henry Greene.
“We were so excited to get the news. It was really quite a surprise that it happened so quickly,” said Greene. “I guess we really shouldn’t be as surprised as we are given the judge’s questioning, how harsh it was last week.”
Greene, his partner Glenn Funkhouser and adopted son Casey, came to Lafayette last week as part of a rally before oral arguments in Chicago.
A 40-page ruling was severely critical of the legal arguments used by both Indiana and Wisconsin. As for the “tradition” argument used by Wisconsin attorneys — the judges stated tradition cannot be a lawful ground of discrimination, regardless of the age of the tradition. As for Indiana’s argument based on procreation, the judges said that rationale is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.
“It was very touching to note that, that was one of their biggest concerns. It was very close to our hearts with our son Casey and our family,” said Greene.
The speed of the decision and the fact that all three judges were unanimous was excitedly received by those at Pride Lafayette like Interim President Becky Ross.
“That’s amazing,” said Ross. “The fact that it only took nine days, and it rendered a unanimous decision speaks volumes to how much our country has moved forward towards marriage equality.”
Initially in consulting with the county attorney, Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey believed Thursday’s ruling would allow her to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples immediately.
However, she later discovered it’s not that easy. Coffey says with the federal stay not lifted, the court’s decision won’t take effect for another 21 days.
“We’ll all be watching to see if there are further orders and try to react as quickly as we can,” said Coffey.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Thursday evening he intends to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Many on both sides of the issue believe it’s likely the court could take it up with legal challenges underway in a number of states and several of them contradictory. Just Wednesday, a federal judge upheld Louisiana’s marriage definition which contradicts Thursday’s 7th Circuit ruling.
So Greene sees Thursday’s decision as a victory, but is not surprised that there’s more to come.
“We’re not surprised by the appeal, so it’s just one more step,” said Greene.
Thursday’s decision does not become effective until the court either lifts its stay or issues a mandate.
Coffey said the state has two weeks to appeal, then the mandate is typically issued one week later.