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Wisconsin, Indiana same-sex marriage bans ruled unconstitutional

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A three-person U.S. appeals court ruled unanimously Thursday same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional.

Judge Richard Posner wrote in the decision the grounds both states claim for their bans – in summation, that it will harm heterosexual marriages or children, or isn't in the service of the state – "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," Posner wrote.

Last year, about a month after Minnesota's legalization of gay marriage became law, former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak invited same-sex Wisconsin couples west to get married, the Wall Street Journal reported. Minnesota was the 13th state in the country to legalize gay marriage.

CBS News notes Thursday's 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling (which you can read in full by clicking here) would push the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 21.

In June, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the same-sex marriage ban in Wisconsin. But Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen appealed, asking the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider. That led to Crabb ordering a halt on same-sex marriages just a week after her ruling.

CBS News says the marriages that occurred between those rulings – of which there were hundreds – could have been in jeopardy if the appeals court upheld the ban.

The Chicago Tribune reports the ruling came just over a week after the appeals court heard oral arguments from attorneys representing both states.

CBS News says both Wisconsin and Indiana could ask for the appeals court to re-hear their case, or could try to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Neither option is guaranteed to be accepted however, the site notes.

Federal lawsuit

Gay marriage has been banned in Wisconsin since 2006, after voters passed a constitutional amendment outlawing the practice. The approval also meant same-sex marriages performed in other states weren't recognized in Wisconsin.

That led to a 2014 federal lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin ACLU on behalf of eight same-sex couples.

Virginia Wolf and Carol Schumacher made up one of the couples that sued Gov. Scott Walker in federal court. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wolf and Schumacher were wed in Minnesota after same-sex marriage became legal in the state, and wanted their home state of Wisconsin to recognize the marriage.

Johannes Wallmann and Keith Borden (seen below) are one of the other couples named as plaintiffs in that federal lawsuit. The Associated Press reports they are "elated" with the ruling.

A same-sex marriage ban in North Dakota is currently being challenged.

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