[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] on Wednesday struck down [opinion, PDF] Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Three lawsuits, including one filed [JURIST report] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on behalf of 15 people, all sought to challenge parts of Indiana Code Section 31-11-1-1 [text], which bans all same-sex marriages and bans recognition of same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. The three lawsuits contended that this piece of legislation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [text]. Chief Judge Richard Young wrote:
The court has never witnessed a phenomenon throughout the federal court system as is presented with this issue. In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions—laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. 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. … 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.
Young did not issue a stay pending appeal, but an appeal is expected.
Since the Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act [text] last year, many federal courts have declared state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Earlier this month the ACLU challenged Alabama’s same sex marriage ban, days after Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban was struck down [JURIST reports]. In May a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] Pennsylvania’s same sex marriage ban. That followed a similar ruling in Oregon, where a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] that state’s same sex marriage ban as well.