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Gay marriage appeal heard today

Federal judge tossed Indiana's ban

CHICAGO – Three federal judges will hear arguments this morning in a Chicago courthouse on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin.

The arguments before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals begin at 10:30 a.m. Indiana time.

Attorneys for the same-sex couples that sued get 20 minutes to argue, and then Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher gets 20 minutes on behalf of the state to defend the ban. Both sides in a Wisconsin case will get the same opportunity.

The specific three-judge panel will be picked from 10 judges in the 7th Circuit at 10 a.m. Indiana time.

In late June, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Young tossed out Indiana's ban on gay marriage, saying “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.”

Hundreds of gay couples around the state ran to courthouses and got married before the 7th Circuit suspended the ruling pending appeal.

The case involved three different lawsuits on behalf of a number of couples seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana or recognition of a marriage from another state.

Young's ruling also ordered immediate recognition of all out-of-state same-sex marriages in Indiana.

The Indiana law withstood a challenge in 2005 when the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

But this time, plaintiffs took their case to the federal system, where other state statutes have been struck down. Young ruled the law violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses.

Indiana lawmakers this year fought over whether to put the state law's definition of marriage into the Indiana Constitution, which would have presumably protected it from a state court ruling. But they had no control over the federal courts.

nkelly@jg.net

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