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Appeals Court Hears Indiana’s Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide on Indiana and Wisconsin's lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans in the coming weeks.

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Photo: Benson Kua (Flickr)

Supporters of same-sex marriage gathered at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday where lawyers on both sides of the case made their arguments.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is offering no timetable for producing a ruling on the same sex-marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin.

The three-judge panel heard combined arguments on the cases today.

Attorneys for both sides were challenged frequently by the three-judge panel hearing oral arguments in Chicago.

For example, during the arguments, Judge Richard Posner, who is a Reagan appointee, questioned Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher’s argument that the state has an interest in regulating procreation through marriage.

Posner pointed out that same-sex couples in Indiana are allowed to adopt children but not marry, and he posited a situation in which a child of a same-sex couple is worried that his family’s life is different from that of his classmates.

POSNER: So, which do you think is better for the psychological health and the welfare of this child? To have the married same-sex couple or the unmarried?

FISHER: Your Honor, I don’t feel like it’s my job to answer that question. That is for the Indiana legislature.

POSNER: Well, I’m asking you. Do you have an opinion? Now you may say—

FISHER: No, I do not.

POSNER: It’s a matter of indifference to you.

FISHER: No. It’s—

POSNER:  Now it turns out, of course, that Indiana provides, and then the federal government is dragged along with it, very substantial tangible benefits to a married couple. Don’t the children of a married couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, don’t they benefit…the married parents are better off. They have all sorts of benefits, survivor benefits, spousal security, tax exemptions—all sorts of benefits, both federal and state. Doesn’t that make the kids better off?

The question was a theme that repeated itself several times during the arguments.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal argued on behalf of the same-sex couples—saying being able to choose whom you marry is a fundamental right.

Judge Anne Claire Williams asked if same-sex marriage was allowed, could the state continue to ban other marriages such as those between first cousins or polygamous relationships.

The Lambda Legal attorney said in those cases the state would be able to do so if it could prove a valid state interest in doing so.

After the arguments ended, Attorney General Greg Zoeller released a statement with a message he has been giving since the case first went to court.

“As the state government’s lawyers, my office has a duty in this appeal to defend Indiana’s law,” he said. “While this case stirs strong emotions on all sides, we urge everyone to show civility toward each other and respect for the court.”

More than a hundred people turned out to hear the arguments, most of them in support of same-sex marriage.

“We are excited to be here today, making the case for Indiana and Wisconsin couples who simply want the freedom to marry and make that public, lifetime commitment to the ones they love,” said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project said in a statement after the arguments. “We believe that, every day, we are one step closer to that freedom being extended to all loving couples, and the ACLU will not stop working until we make marriage equality a reality in every state in the country.”

The full arguments can be heard on the court’s website.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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  • wayne

    No attorney general is duty bound to defend a state laws where it has been held to violate the US Constitution. His oath is to also defend the US Constitution and he should have learned in Constitutional Law 101 that where the state and federal laws or constitutions conflict, the Federal Constitution of Law takes precedence. His expressed “duty” is a failed attempt to conceal his state’s bigotry.

  • collideronline

    Just like any politician, their main goal is spending the public’s money on useless hating making them appear to actually have morals.

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