Federal same-sex marriage ruling opens door for U.S. Supreme Court to step in

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The issue of same-sex marriage in Indiana is likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thursday, a federal appellate court ruled Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The ruling is just another step that paves the way for the Supreme Court to ultimately decide whether marriages that took place at the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis and all across the state are in fact legal.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said his officer will ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of Thursday's ruling, until the court can take up and rule on a same-sex marriage case.

The Supreme Court could take on the topic in its fall term, this October, with a number of related cases.

In the meantime, the ACLU and plaintiffs celebrate another victory.

"Every time we have these decisions, it adds a little more joy to the day that we had together. And so we keep pushing forward until it's finally recognized," said Greg Hasty, one of the plaintiffs.

It's been a summer of big decisions for the ACLU of Indiana. In late June, a federal judge cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry, though later halted by a stay.

Then Thursday, word came from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, affirming that Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

"It's very gratifying for a court to come out so clearly and say this just doesn't make sense," said Ken Falk, Legal Director with the ACLU of Indiana.

Attorneys and clients traveled to Chicago to make their arguments in the case just last week.

In the ruling, the court took aim at part of Indiana's defense, that the ban on same-sex marriage protects children and families.

Plaintiffs Steven Stolen, Rob MacPherson, and their daughter Abbey said they see things differently.

"Our family who has loved each other for a long long time now has been validated by the court," said MacPherson.

Criticism flew in quickly from various groups.

The American Family Association of Indiana released the following statement which read in part:

"Natural marriage benefits society like no other relationship because it is not merely the union of any two people, but the union of the two sexes for a special and unique relationship recognized by diverse societies around the globe since the beginning of time."

The Indiana Family Institute released the following statement which read in part:

"Marriage is a public policy that should be decided by the public, not the Courts. The future of marriage should be in the hands of Hoosier voters not activist judges."

But it appears what defines a marriage will be in the hands of judges, after all - the nine who sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Having a court recognize that what all of us feel should be normal is normal, it's a very gratifying thing, and I hope when a case gets to the Supreme Court the Court sees it the same way," said Falk.

At this point, same-sex couples cannot legally go out and get married in Indiana, despite Thursday's decision.

The stay of the lower court decision remains in effect because the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has not filed a mandate yet finalizing its ruling.