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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) in Indiana.

Part 8

2014-SEP-04:
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues ruling
favoring SSM. Reactions. Opinion polls.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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In this essay "LGB" refers to Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals.
"SSM" refers to marriages by same-sex couples.

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2014-SEP-04: Circuit Judge Richard Posner's ruling (Cont'd).

Circuit Judge Posner's ruling also discussed the harm done to same-sex couples by the states'' refusal to allow them to marry:

"The harm to homosexuals (and, as we’ll emphasize, to their adopted children) of being denied the right to marry is considerable. Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship; to exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status. Because homosexuality is not a voluntary condition and homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world, the disparagement of their sexual orientation, implicit in the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, is a source of continuing pain to the homosexual community. ... The harm to homosexuals (and, as we’ll emphasize, to their adopted children) of being denied the right to marry is considerable. Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship; to exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status. Because homosexuality is not a voluntary condition and homosexuals are... The grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible. ... The only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction — that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended — is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously. ... Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure. ... The state should want homosexual couples who adopt children ... to be married, if it is serious in arguing that the only governmental interest in marriage derives from the problem of accidental births. (We doubt that it is serious.)" 1

In common with essentially all other court rulings, Circuit Judge Posner seems to assume that all same-sex couples are composed of two persons with a homosexual orientation. They overlook individuals with a bisexual orientation who are sometimes present in such relationships.

The court ruling is 40 pages long, and is written using very clear, easy to understand language. It is well worth reading by anyone concerned about marriage equality in the U.S. 1

If the states of Indiana and Wisconsin can act quickly enough, they may be able to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court in time for its next session. The deadline for appeals is SEP-23. However, the high court will not necessarily grant certiorari -- agree to hear the case. If they do not accept the appeal, then same-sex marriage will become legal in Wisconsin and Indiana. Same-sex marriage is already permitted in Illinois, which is the third state under the jurisdiction of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Reactions to the Circuit Court ruling:

  • Plaintiff Amy Sandler said:

    "I have said in the past (that) cultural shifts usually take place after legal decisions, so this legal decision is an incredibly important step toward what I hope will be a cultural change as my children grow up." 2

  • Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, issued a statement:

    "I am very troubled that this court failed to recognize the self-evident truth that children need and deserve a mom and dad.  The ruling doesn't appear to allow society to choose to maintain a coherent definition of marriage. 

    "The courts have no true constitutional authority to unilaterally change the definition of our most fundamental social institution.  Yet this court is engaging in judicial activism unlike yesterday's federal court ruling which upheld the right of Louisiana voters to preserve natural marriage in their state's public policy. 

    "The Seventh Circuit's radical departure from natural law and the received wisdom of human history continues to undermine the legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of a majority of Americans.  Marriage redefinitions imposed by judicial fiat cannot change the truth about marriage, men, women, children, and parenting.   Ultimately, the American people will have the final word as they experience the consequences of marriage redefinition and the ways in which it fundamentally alters America's moral, cultural and political landscape." 3

  • Garrett Epps, writing for The Atlantic, discussed Judge Posner's ruling:

    "The opinion is a Posnerian tour de force: clear, clever, thorough, witty, and—well—odd. ..."

    "At this point, we know all the arguments against marriage equality: Procreation. Tradition. Morality. Caution about social change. Democratic process. ..."

    Posner ... does not rebut arguments against same-sex marriage, but rather (to paraphrase an old Southern threat) beats them to a pulp, puts the pulp into a sack, and then beats on the sack. ..."

    ""It is a roaring steam engine of an opinion, at times exhilarating and at other times puzzling. Is it likely to change minds? No. Its flip dismissal of the political process argument makes it less persuasive than it could have been." 4

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2012 to now: Public opinion polls on same-sex marriage in Indiana:

  • 2012-DEC: The Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and WISH-TV conducted a poll. This occurred at the time that the Indiana House was considering a resolution to change the state Constitution to ban access to marriage by same-sex couples . In spite of many years of attempts by the legislature to place a constitutional ban of SSM on the ballot, they were never able to succeed,

    Results of the poll were:
    • 54% opposed banning same-sex marriage.
    • 38% supported a ban on same-sex marriage. 6

Most polls on same-sex marriage in the U.S. show a gradual increase in support and a gradual decrease in opposition to marriage by same-sex couples over time. Each typically changes by 1 to 2 percentage points a year. If their poll were taken at the time of the appeal before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then the results would probably be on the order of 56% in opposition and 36% favoring a ban.

However, the same survey found in a separate question that support and opposition to marriage equality itself was split evenly with 45% in favor and 45% opposed. 9 This is every politician's nightmare, because no matter what action or inaction they take, they are certain to alienate a large percentage of voters.

The previous month, a group of 25 students at Indiana University published the results of their nine months of research into the Indiana legal code. Their study was sponsored by Indiana Equality Action, a pro-equality group. The students found that 614 laws in the state impacted civil marriage, family, and spousal relationships. Thus, these laws treated married opposite-sex couples differently from same-sex couples because the latter could not marry. 7

  • 2013-OCT: Another poll by Ball State University and WISH-TV showed that:
    • 57% opposed banning same-sex marriage.
    • 38% supported a ban on same-sex marriage. 8

However, other polls showed widely diverging results, with majorities in favor and opposed to the same-sex marriage ban. 7

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above notes. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Baskin v. Bogan and Wolf v. Walker ruling, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2014-SEP-05. Link is contained in at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. , "Court: Same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Wisconsin unconstitutional," Chicago Tribune, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/
  3. "Midwestern Court of Appeals Fails to Recognize Truth that Children Need, Deserve a Mom and Dad," Family Research Council, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.frc.org/
  4. Garrett Epps, "Is There Any Rational Case for Banning Gay Marriage?," The Atlantic, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.theatlantic.com/
  5. Lawrence Hurley, "U.S. court rejects gay-marriage bans as 'implausible'," Reuters, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  6. "Poll: Most Hoosiers say no to constitutional ban on same-sex marriage," Indianpolis Star, 2012-DEC-13, at: http://www.indystar.com/
  7. "More than just a couple: 614 reasons why marriage equality matters in Indiana," Indiana Equality Action Blog, 2012-NOV-27, at: http://www.indianaequalityaction.org/ The report can be downloaded from this article.
  8. "Same-sex marriage in Indiana," Wikipedia, as on 2014-SEP-05, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  9. Zach ford, "POLL: Indiana Split On Marriage Equality, Opposed To Amendment," Think Progress, 2012-DEC-13
  10. "How same-sex marriage is unfolding in Utah, other states," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
  11. Tom Davies, "Idiana county clerks told to allow gay marriages," SFGate, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.sfgate.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2014-SEP-06
Latest update: 2014-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson
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