Gay couples' lawyers object to full-court hearing

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Attorneys on either side of a lawsuit over Wisconsin and Indiana's overthrown gay marriage bans are wrangling over how many federal judges should hear the states' appeal, a technical issue that could make a big difference.

Those representing gay couples who want the bans overturned permanently in both Indiana and Wisconsin filed briefs on Monday arguing that a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is enough. They say three-judge panels in other districts have heard similar cases and at least one has rejected a similar motion for a full-court hearing.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller requested June 11 that the full, 10-member court hear the case, which lawyers call en banc review. Wisconsin made a similar move last week after the same federal appeals court had consolidated Indiana and Wisconsin's cases.

"En banc review would serve to provide the insights and judgment of 10 well-respected judges, rather than just three, which would benefit the judicial review process no matter the outcome," Indiana attorney general's office spokesman Bryan Corbin said in a statement Tuesday.

But according to a legal expert, a full-court review amounts to playing the odds.

"Your panel of three may or may not be representative of the whole court. There are going to be times when that happens," David Orentlicher, a professor at Indiana University's McKinney School of Law, said Tuesday.

Both states agree that the case should move rapidly through the legal process.

Hundreds of couples were married in Indiana from June 25, when U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down the state's gay marriage ban, to June 27, when the 7th Circuit put the decision on hold. The sole exception to the appeals court stay in Indiana was an order for the state to recognize the out-of-state marriage of Amy Sandler and Nikole Quasney of Munster; Quasney is dying of ovarian cancer.

In Wisconsin, more than 500 couples got married after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled June 6 that the ban was a violation of gay couples' equal protection and due process rights. Crabb put her ruling on hold a week later and there have been no marriages since.

Marriages in both states conducted in between when the bans were struck down and put on hold remain in legal limbo.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the bans in both states, argues that the marriages are legal.

ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on July 11 asking him to issue a statement that the federal government will recognize the marriages as he did in Utah and Michigan, which would make Indiana's couples eligible for federal benefits for married couples.

Democratic members of Congress from Wisconsin made a similar request.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.


  • Just A Thought
    OK, so just a thought: if marriage has ALWAYS, since the beginning of time, been defined as between one man and one woman, could someone please explain the biblical situations where a man could have MANY wives, simultaneously? Or, how about something more current: Mormons and their polygamous marriages? It would seem to me that those certainly weren't one man / one woman...
  • Daniel
    Daniel, if you are aren't happy with the decision on August 13 and want to suggest the US change marriage so you can keep it for your religion and so that other religions can't use the term, you are free to work with the legislature to get laws changed. On August 13 judges are going to decide if Indiana and Wisconsin can continue to discriminate with respect to marriage as it is defined currently. I hope that discrimination stops no matter what it is called.
  • a win-win
    John … marriage was already defined (1 man / 1 woman) centuries before the US was formed. The very last group of people that I would want to define anything having to do with morality would be the US Congress / Government. ? Marriage is not a right … it’s an institution which is defined in history / culture. If I were in your situation … I’d just ask for the various legal status that you are pursuing to be granted to any two (or three? Five?) people that want their lives legally intertwined. That way the integrity of Marriage for the vast majority of humanity is not violated … and you get the legal status you are seeking. Sounds like a win-win.
  • Rick
    Rick, you should consider what it will be like when people that have your view are the minority. How will you feel then if the majority always wins? Since there are so many religious movements and each has decided which historic document to believe in and what parts are literal and which parts aren't, your religious movement is most likely already in the minority. That's OK though, you have been granted the right to believe whatever religion you choose. But along with that right, you have not been given the right to force others to believe the religion that you choose. The decision on August 13 won't change these rights in any way. You will still be free to believe what you will about who should and shouldn't be married. Hopefully though the judges will decide it is unconstitutional to ban marriage to those who choose to marry someone of the same sex. This will eliminate one of the remaining discrimination policies of the state just like we did when we allowed women to vote.
  • Marriage
    Daniel, the US was formed in 1776 so to the country, the beginning of time doesn't play into it. The government has given rights to people that are married. I don't know when that happened, but I'm sure you can do the research to find that out. We don't want to disallow marriage and the governmental rights that go with it to a whole class of people so that is what is being decided on August 13: Do we continue to disallow these marriage rights to people that would like to marry a same sex person. If you feel you own the name marriage and would like to define it in a certain way and you want to make sure everyone defines it that way, talking to senators and representatives is a way to do it. The August 13 decision will happen either way.
    • definition ...
      John Smith ... the definition of marriage has been defined as one man and one woman since the beginning of time ... when did it change? who changed it? who had the authority to change it?
    • Courts
      The courts exist to interpret gray areas of the law. More importantly they exist to protect the citizenry from the government. It's true those other issues exist - and frankly that's a lot of the reason why this country is in such bad shape. There has been way too much compromise . Our two points of view are diametrically opposed. There can be no compromise that sufficiently mitigates this. I'll repeat what I said - sometimes it is the majority that should be the protected class.
    • Daniel
      Daniel, the judges are not deciding names of things, they are deciding if the ban is constitutional or not. If you want the government to change the name for marriage, you can contact your US and state representatives and senators. they are the ones that can do that. On August 13, judges are going to decide if we continue discriminating against people who choose to marry someone of the same sex or not. I hope we stop the discrimination.
      • make up a new term for your new relationship ... ?
        Marriage is between one man and one woman. If you wish to create a new term to define a legal contract defining the relationship between two persons of the same sex ... feel free to do so. I'd support that.
      • Rick
        The courts exist in our system of government to protect the rights of minorities against majorities. I fail to see how allowing someone else to do something infringes on your rights. This country has always stood for the ideal that individuals were free to follow their personal beliefs and that the majority cannot force individuals to believe what the majority want them to. No one is forcing you to do anything, you are just angry that you can't force everyone else to believe and act the way you want them to. Trying to turn this around as someone taking away your rights because they won't let you tell other people how they should live is just totally wrong.
        • Rick
          Rick, you deal with gay marriage the same way you deal with eating meat on Friday's, working on the sabbath, divorce and all the other things that are against your interpretation of the bible. You explain to your kids that you choose to not do those even though others do. It's very easy and is something you no doubt already do. If this ban should be declared unconstitutional you can explain to your kids that the government discriminates less than it used to which is a good thing.
        • Rick
          Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?
        • Harm
          Most well-meaning parents prevent their children from playing violent video games. Michelle O. is trying to regulate school lunches. We ban smoking, rail against fast food and build enclosures around the animal exhibits at the zoo. All in the name of safety. For those of us who view gay marriage as a moral danger, this is no different. It is a fight to prevent our children from being exposed to what we view as spiritual poison. That is where the harm is being done. This is an argument about standing up for the rights to not have out faith trampled upon by a tyrannical minority.
        • ideology
          Rick, how does granting theright to marry to people choosing to marry same-sex partners harm the lives of those who choose not to? I cannot for the life of me see any harm to people who choose not to marry someone of the same sex. We understand your choice to take the parts of the bible literally in your life. That is fine but why force your religious beliefs on others? I'm hoping the judges do the right thing and declare the ban unconstitutional so all citizens of Wisconsin and Indiana have the same marriage rights and that those who chose someone of the same sex do not have less rights than others.
        • Tyranny
          It's not marching backward. It is refusing to sacrifice the rights of the majority, who wish to raise their children in a moral, traditional society for the convenience of the two-percenters. Sometimes the majority must be the protected class. This is one of those times. The 3-judge panel was correct in issuing a stay. SCOTUS was correct on Hobby Lobby. And the courts were correct yesterday in striking down subsidies for Obamacare. These cases are all interrelated, with the common thread being a minority trying to cram an ideology down the throats of the majority. America has simply had enough. The two-percenters are afraid of en banc because they know they can't win.
        • Waste of Taxpayer money
          Why oh why are Indiana (and Wisconsin) marching backward. In attempting to return our states to the middle ages they are wasting taxpayer funds, and diverting their energies from more important issues

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          1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

          2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

          3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

          4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

          5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.