TERRE HAUTE —
Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.
Ever since lawsuits seeking to strike down the state’s marriage ban began raining down during the past year, the U.S. district judge assigned to the case, Richard Young, made it clear how he was leaning.
But Wednesday’s ruling left no doubt. Young called Indiana’s ban unconstitutional and a violation of people’s rights to due process and equal protection.
“Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana,” Young wrote. “These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”
The late-morning ruling set off a flurry of activity. In Indianapolis, Marion County Clerk Beth White, a Democratic candidate for Indiana secretary of state, immediately began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and performing their marriages. In Bloomington, a photo posted on social media by the Herald Times newspaper showed four couples lined up to get marriage licenses from the Monroe County clerk.
Some clerk’s offices around the state were more cautious and deferred action on issuing licenses. But, to its credit, the Vigo County clerk’s office had issued two licenses by late afternoon to same-sex couples, and Judge Chris Newton performed the ceremonies in the courthouse.
It was an historic moment. We are proud of the way Vigo County handled the matter.
State Attorney General Greg Zoeller, to no one’s surprise, announced his office would appeal the ruling and ask for an immediate stay to stop licenses from being issued.
All of this mirrored what happened in the growing number of other states that have been through a similar process.
While the results of the day may be somewhat muddled when viewed up close, there is clarity on the long road ahead. This matter will be appealed, and eventually it will be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to deliver the ultimate ruling.
In fact, America moved closer to that stage Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling overturning Utah’s gay marriage ban, marking the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that states must allow gay marriage. That ruling puts the issue a step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Indiana is experiencing a transformation. Public opinion has evolved on the issue of gay marriage. Most people now believe, rightly so, that banning marriage for same-sex couples is unfair, discriminatory, even cruel, and a violation of their civil rights.
There may be a long way to go. But Wednesday’s developments make it more likely that we’ll finally get there.