Indiana appeals latest same-sex marriage ruling

Published: .
Updated: .

Indiana is appealing a federal judge's ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Attorney General's office spokesman Bryan Corbin says the state filed an appeal Wednesday with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young, in his ruling Tuesday evening, granted the state's request for a stay, delaying it from taking effect until the appeals court rules on an earlier same-sex marriage decision. The appeals court will hear oral arguments in that case next week.

Corbin says the state's latest appeal likely will be litigated on a different timetable than the cases scheduled for arguments next week.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court delayed the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia, which was set to begin Thursday.

Legal experts believe the patchwork of rulings on this issue all across the country will get settled soon. They say the nation's highest court is very likely to get involved and decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage once and for all.

For Indianapolis couple Eric and Ben Lekberg and their adopted son, Josh, the past few years have been a roller coaster of emotional highs and uncertain lows.

"We got married in 2007 in Ontario, Canada," Eric explained. "The federal government recognizes that, but the state of Indiana doesn't necessarily at this point."

Their lives are in legal limbo.

"What's weird is we can file jointly for our federal taxes, but we can't for our state," Ben said.

Hundreds of same-sex Hoosiers who married after a judge struck down Indiana's ban, only to have that ruling stayed by an appeals court, are in a similar situation.

"It would be nice to have this settled once and for all so it's not an issue," Eric said.

Soon, it could be.

Legal experts believe the same-sex marriage issue likely will be taken up the U.S. Supreme Court when it meets next month, with a decision by June.

"I'd be shocked if we don't get a decision by the end of June," said IU McKinney School of Law professor David Orentlicher. "A year ago, you might have thought it could take a year, two years. Now, I don't think, as I said, anyone who's a Supreme Court watcher thinks this will go beyond next June."

Here's why, according to experts:

The issue has been moving swiftly through appeals courts throughout the country - different states and different standards and not enough clear-cut decisions. Wednesday, the nation's high court delayed a ruling that overturned Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.

It's the second time the Supreme Court has taken such action.

Experts say it's also a sign that the justices will settle the matter soon.

"This is something that needs to be sorted out," Orentlicher said. "The Supreme Court understands that until they weigh in, people aren't going to know what is the status of a same-sex marriage."

For the Lekbergs, an answer can't come soon enough.

"I'm glad that it's sooner than later," Ben said. "At least they're taking it seriously and they're realizing it's a huge issue all over the country right now."

"I definitely think that the momentum is in our favor," Eric added, "so the sooner the Supreme Court takes the case, I think is better."