Gay marriage wins in Indiana and Utah
Less than an hour after a federal judge struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex nuptials, making the Hoosier State the 20th in the nation where gay and lesbian couples can wed, a federal appeals court invalidated a different state ban – in Utah – for the first time in the last year’s historic wave of victories.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver voted 2-1 to overturn Utah’s ban on same-sex nuptials, upholding a lower court’s decision. The ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has found such a ban to be unconstitutional since 2012, when the 9th Circuit ruled against the now-defunct Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.The 10th Circuit put its ruling on hold, meaning gay and lesbian couples still cannot wed in the Beehive State. Utah officials can appeal either to the entire 10th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” the court said. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”
Minutes earlier, U.S. District Judge Richard Young, a President Clinton appointee, struck down Indiana’s ban on same-sex nuptials and did not put his ruling on hold. He joins 13 other federal judges who have ruled in favor of marriage equality since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) exactly one year ago Thursday.
“The court has never witnessed a phenomenon throughout the federal court system as is presented with this issue,” Young wrote in his 36-page opinion
, released Wednesday. “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.” While many still hold that marriage laws should be dictated by the states, the growing legal consensus suggests the opposite – that the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian citizens are not up for debate.