Ten states have joined Indiana‘s appeal of a federal judge‘s ruling that same-sex marriage in the state should be legal.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, the attorneys general from the states asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm that each state has the right to set its own marriage laws. The states joining the case are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah.
Several federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage in 17 states since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year. All have ruled that the bans violated the U.S. Constitution.
But in its brief, the ten attorneys general say they agree with Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller that the other key marriage ruling by the Supreme Court - the case of Proposition 8 in California - left in place the right of states to define marriage between heterosexual couples only. The Supreme Court denied an appeal of a lower court‘s striking down of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, but it did so on a technicality since the appeal was made by an outside group rather than the state.
U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down Indiana‘s ban on same-sex marriage last month. Hundreds of couples were married over a two-day period before the 7th Circuit issued a stay of Young‘s order pending Zoeller‘s appeal.
The stay does not apply to one same-sex couple, Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler of Munster. The court granted recognition of their marriage because of Quasney‘s terminal cancer. The ACLU of Indiana has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to issue a statement saying the federal government will recognize the marriages that took place before the stay - Governor Mike Pence said earlier this month the state would not recognize the marriages as legal.
Oral arguments in Zoeller‘s appeal are scheduled for August 13, and Indiana‘s appeal was consolidated with a similar appeal by Wisconsin's attorney general.