INDIANAPOLIS – A federal appeals court on Friday put on hold a judge’s order striking down Indiana’s gay marriage ban, bringing same-sex marriages to a halt and leaving those who’ve already tied the knot in legal limbo.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued the order two days after U.S. District Judge Richard Young had ruled that Indiana’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The decision came shortly after Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, tired of waiting for Young to rule, appealed to the 7th Circuit.
Zoeller’s spokesman, Bryan Corbin, said the attorney general’s office would immediately let county clerks know about the decision. The Marion County clerk’s office in Indianapolis, which handed out 120 marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday, had planned to open today so gay couples could get married, but announced after the ruling that it would not.
Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the stay. Hoosiers Unite for Marriage spokesman Kyle Megrath said the group had delivered more than 12,000 petition signatures asking Zoeller not to pursue any appeals.
“More than anything, this is a terrible blow to the legally wedded Indiana couples and their families who were finally, after so long, recognized this week under Indiana law,” Megrath said.
The attorney general’s office argued it was premature to require Indiana to change its definition of marriage until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the issue, as is widely expected.
In staying Young’s order requiring the state to allow same-sex marriages, the appeals court followed the lead of courts across the country, which have granted stays of similar rulings at either the district or appellate level until appeals can decide the issue.