The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night stopped county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a move that throws hundreds of unions performed over the past two days into limbo.
The court – at the request of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller – issued a stay of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Young that found the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
The ruling means that same sex marriages are “now halted, pending resolution of this appeal in the 7th Circuit,” said Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office. “County clerks will be notified that under the stay granted tonight, Indiana’s marriage laws are again fully in force pursuant to the 7th Circuit’s order.”
The order came a few hours after Hoosiers who support same sex marriage delivered a petition with more than 12,000 signatures to the attorney general’s office encouraging him to stop pursuing the stay and an appeal of Young’s decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that the court has issued this stay, and we are committed to protecting the freedom to marry in Indiana,” said Kyle Megrath, marriage coordinator for Hoosiers Unite.
Since the decision Wednesday, hundreds of same sex couples across the state have married. But because Young’s ruling in favor of gay marriage has been stayed, state law is now back in effect. That law does not recognize same sex marriages – even for those couples married in a state where the unions are legal.
“More than anything, this is a terrible blow to the legally wedded Indiana couples and their families who were finally — after so long — recognized this week under Indiana law,” Megrath said.
Zoeller first requested the stay from Young, just hours after the judge issued his original decision. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a response on Friday.
But when Young hadn’t ruled by later Friday, the attorney general sought the stay from the 7th Circuit, which will also consider the appeal.
Earlier in the day, Megrath said he had tried to talk to Zoeller but was told he was unavailable. The group then delivered the petitions to his office.
The Marion County Clerk’s Office said it performed 130 marriages on Friday. All but 10 of the marriages were to same-sex couples.
Since Wednesday, the office has issued 586 marriage licenses in total, with an estimated 500 or more of those to same-sex couples.