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Court ruling over gay marriage sparks celebration, confusion

September 4, 2014

Supporters of gay marriage celebrated in Indiana on Thursday after a federal appeals court upheld a ruling that the state's ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional. But many took a cautious approach to the ruling, noting the legal fight is far from over.

Seeking a stay

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the state would seek a stay of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court's ruling pending an expected review by the U.S. Supreme Court. "It seems clear that a final resolution of the constitutional issues involving states' authority over their marriage licenses will need a decision from our nation's highest court. Since the Supreme Court has already issued stay orders in two Circuit decisions, it seems appropriate that today's decision also be stayed. Hopefully, for the interests of everyone on both sides of these cases, the Supreme Court will make a ruling sooner rather than later," Zoeller said in a statement.

Clerk confusion

Clerks in some counties, including Tippecanoe and Monroe, said they had consulted county attorneys and were prepared to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But Marion County Clerk Beth White, who became the first in the state to marry gay couples after U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down the gay marriage ban in June, held off. White said her office would not issue same-sex marriage licenses because the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not overturn an existing stay of Young's ruling and she did not want to put couples in legal limbo. Camilla Taylor, marriage project director for Lambda Legal, said the ruling will not take effect for 21 days. That will give Indiana and Wisconsin time to request a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Taking exception

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said his group takes "strong exception" to Judge Richard Posner's opinion calling Indiana and Wisconsin's defense of their laws "implausible." ''The public purpose of marriage is to unite men to women and both to any children they produce," Clark said. "Marriage policy should be about protecting the established needs of children and society, not affirming the variable desires of certain political activists."

Couples cautious

One couple involved in the lawsuits challenging Indiana's ban said they wouldn't race to the altar just yet. Henry Greene, 51, who lives with his 48-year-old partner, Glenn Funkhouser, in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, said they want to wait until the legal battle is over, even if that means a ruling by the Supreme Court. "My belief is that this court is trying to send a message elsewhere, to say it's time to get this over with. It's time to put discrimination aside," Greene said. "We still have work to do, but we're one step closer ... to having full equality in Indiana." Greene and Funkhouser have a 12-year-old son.

Lawmakers react

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne says he hopes the Supreme Court takes up the issue of gay marriage quickly to end the "chaos" created by multiple federal court rulings. But House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City said the 7th Circuit's decision, which is in line with most other court rulings, underscores the need for lawmakers to move on to other issues. "We have already wasted too much time on this subject," he said.

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