Federal court strikes down Indiana ban on same-sex marriages

In the latest of a long string of decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans, an Indiana federal court has now done so in that state. Judge Richard L. Young, a Clinton appointee, held that the ban was a form of sexual-orientation discrimination, not sex discrimination, but that under Seventh Circuit precedent only rational-basis review applied. Nevertheless, Judge Young concluded that no interest of the state was rationally served by banning marriage for same-sex couples. He concluded:

The court has never witnessed a phenomenon throughout the federal court system as is presented with this issue. In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions – laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear that the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as a marriage – not a samesex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such. Today, the “injustice that [we] had not earlier known or understood” ends. Windsor. Because “[a]s the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.” Lawrence.

The judge made the decision effective immediately, with no stay entered.  Same-sex couples have already begun marrying.

Dale Carpenter is the Distinguished University Teaching Professor and Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law; the freedoms of speech, association, and religion; and sexual orientation and the law.

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