“The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and 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,” Posner wrote.
Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, was joined by Judges Ann Claire Williams, appointed by Bill Clinton, and David Hamilton, appointed by President Obama.
The 7th Circuit is the third Court of Appeals to rule against same-sex marriage bans in state constitutions, a year after the Supreme Court overturned key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. Earlier this year, the 10th Circuit struck down marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah, and the 4th Circuit struck down bans in Virginia.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will rule on similar laws in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee after hearing oral arguments in August.
Some Wisconsin counties issued marriage licenses after Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state’s gay marriage ban in June. Crabb later stayed her own ruling, pending appeal. The Indiana decision was also stayed. Those stays remain in effect, meaning Thursday’s decision will not result in a flood of new marriages.
The decision comes a day after a federal judge in Louisiana ruled that state had the right to ban same-sex unions. Judge Martin Feldman was the first federal district judge to rule in favor of marriage bans after the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision.