BY MICHAEL TARM
CHICAGO -- A U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution, in another in a series of courtroom wins for gay-marriage advocates.
The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago criticized the justifications both states gave for the bans, several times singling out the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is tradition. There are, the court noted, good and bad traditions.
"Bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that from a public-policy standpoint are neither good nor bad — such as trick-or-treating on Halloween," it said. "Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination-regardless of the age of the tradition."
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts. Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriages bans unconstitutional.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B Van Hollen said he would appeal Thursday's ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after attorneys general in the states appealed separate lower court rulings in June that tossed the bans. The 7th Circuit stayed those rulings pending its own decision on the cases, which were considered simultaneously.