Proponents of same-sex marriage have had both a positive and negative week. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Louisiana became one of the first to go against the federal court trend of striking down the bans on same-sex marriage. On Thursday, federal judges involved in the rulings for both Wisconsin and Indiana ruled that the bans on gay marriage were actually unconstitutional. With all three of these rulings, same-sex marriage proponents were left with both a sense of defeat in one instance and a sense of progress in two more.
Wednesday’s decision in Louisiana was based on the judge ruling that the state itself was in charge of regulating marriage. The judge indicated in his ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage in Louisiana did not violate any fundamental rights. He further states that the state of Louisiana had a genuine interest in keeping children in families with parents that are both biological. While the decision was not surprising to some it did come as a disappointment to those hoping to continue the trend of the bans being lifted. Wednesday’s ruling will be appealed in the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Thursday was a progressive day in Chicago for same-sex marriage proponents after the defeat one day prior. The court of appeals in that city ruled in favor of lifting the bans in both Wisconsin and Indiana. The court declared the bans in both states to be unconstitutional. The panel of three judges ruling against the ban unanimously declared that the ban enforced policies that were prejudiced in nature. The judging panel indicated in their ruling that the governments of both Wisconsin and Indiana were unable to give them any reasonable arguments to justify the ban on same-sex marriage. This ruling was delivered only nine days after arguments were heard in the case.
The ruling for Wisconsin and Indiana joins other recently over-turned bans in states such as Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma. Other states will know the verdict on their rulings in regard to same-sex marriage over the course of the next few weeks. In every case up to this date the rulings permitting same-sex marriage have been, for the time being, upheld as they wait for the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court. The same will most likely be the case for Wisconsin and Indiana. Even the judge in Louisiana indicated that while he was not over-turning the ban, it was inevitably up to the Supreme Court to make the final decision.
While officials in both Wisconsin and Indiana have said they will appeal this decision, many proponents see this as a victory. Many legal experts are predicting that the ultimate decision will come down to the Supreme Court. In the end it will truly be the Supreme Court who will decide the issue for the nation and this decision may even come within the next one to two years. In the meantime, proponents of same-sex marriage get a chance to mourn their defeat in Louisiana, but they also have reason to celebrate after progress was made towards bans being lifted in all the states.
By Kimberley Spinney