Jul 12, 2014

Wisconsin, Indiana Marriage Equity Cases Fast-tracked by Appellate Court

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney's marriage
sustained by appellate court
fast-tracking marriage equity cases in
Indiana and Wisconsin
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

ACLU of Wisconsin: "We are disappointed that (Scott) Walker, (J.B.) Van Hollen, and the other defendants are turning their backs on equality - but we will fight on."

Civil rights history is unfolding fast in the heartland as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ordered two right-to-marry cases be consolidated and fast-tracked.

The liberty and equality of American citizens are being acclaimed in federal courts across the country against the bigotries of religious and partisan interests still presenting arguments against marriage equity with no apparent rational basis.

Less than two weeks after an order by the federal appellate court that an Indiana couple be allowed to stay married in light of one of spouses facing terminal cancer [other marriages were stayed], and one day after Wisconsin's attorney general appealed a U.S. District judge's June declaration and injunction against Wisconsin's gay marriage bans, a three-judge appellate panel ordered Indiana and Wisconsin litigants to file briefs by August 4th and that the Indiana and Wisconsin cases be consolidated.

Meanwhile, ACLU of Indiana "(a)ttorneys on Friday asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to step in on behalf of hundreds of same-sex couples who were wed before a federal appeals court stayed an order striking down Indiana's gay marriage ban," reports Charles D. Wilson (AP). "The letter by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana asks Holder to issue a statement that the federal government will recognize the marriages as he did in Utah and Michigan, which would make Indiana's couples eligible for federal benefits for married couples."

Against near unanimous Republican Party opposition, marriage equality for same-sex couples is moving rapidly through the courts and the U.S. Supreme Court will likely take up several cases and rule definitively next term whether individuals have a right to marry under the equal protection, due process and liberty interests under the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

"The panel that sped up the case consists of Judges Richard Posner, Ann Claire Williams and David Hamilton. Posner and Williams were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and Hamilton was appointed by President Bill Clinton," note Patrick Marley and Dana Ferguson (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

The Seventh Circuit's jurisdiction consists of Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Posner, an outspoken public intellectual, is widely regarded as one of the leading legal minds in the country in the appellate court noted for its outspoken and brilliant jurists.

The two cases are Indiana's Baskin v. Zoeller (consolidated with Officer Pamela Lee v. Pence, filed by Indiana Equality Action on behalf of first responders seeking equality for their marriages and Midori Fujii v. State of Indiana) and Wisconsin's Walker v. Wolf. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel document)

The arguments of 'this is what I believe' and 'I don't like gays' increasingly are being struck down by federal courts across the county as having no rational basis or legitimate purpose buttressing state gay marriage bans after last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"The federal [DOMA] statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity," Justice Kennedy wrote. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment [protecting the liberty of the individual]." (Liptak, NYT)

Injuring gay Americans is the official policy of a major American political party and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that would inflict hate onto the LGBTQ community using the vehicle of the state.

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