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Federal judge strikes down Indiana ban on same-sex marriage

Jake Miller, 30, and Craig Bowen, 35, right, kiss after being married by Marion County Clerk Beth White, center, in Indianapolis, Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
Jake Miller, 30, and Craig Bowen, 35, right, kiss after being married by Marion County Clerk Beth White, center, in Indianapolis, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Michael Conroy, AP

Federal courts across the country have been striking down gay marriage bans, but many of those rulings are on hold pending appeal. Attorneys on both sides of the issue expect the matter to eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court.

So far, courts haven’t given any clear direction, said Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond who has been tracking the recent rulings.

“We don’t have a final decision,” Tobias said.

The ruling came the same day 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 nation’s highest court.

But in Indiana, advocates were celebrating a local win.

“Hoosiers can now proclaim they are on the right side of history,” Lambda Legal, the national gay rights group that represented five of the couples that challenged Indiana’s ban, said in a statement.

Jane Henegar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which represented 13 plaintiffs in the cases that led to the ruling, added: “Marriage is a commitment, declared privately and publicly, to love and honor and be responsible to and for each other. Same-sex couples want marriage, and finally marriage is possible in Indiana.”

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But the fight isn’t over. In addition to the state’s planned appeal of Young’s ruling, Indiana lawmakers could renew an effort to ban gay marriage in the state’s constitution.

A similar movement faltered during this year’s legislative session when lawmakers removed language about civil unions from the amendment. That means the soonest the issue could appear on a ballot is 2016, unless federal court rulings scuttle the proposed amendment.

Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City said it was time to end the debate over same-sex marriage.

“In Indiana, we need to take heed of this change. We need to stop this debate now. It is pointless to continue.”

The ruling is here.

Developing story. This report will be updated.

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