- Associated Press - Thursday, September 4, 2014
Court rules against gay marriage bans in 2 states

CHICAGO (AP) - A U.S. appeals court issued a scathing, unequivocal ruling Thursday declaring that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violated the U.S. Constitution - a decision released a little more than a week after oral arguments from a normally slow and deliberative court.

The unanimous, 40-page decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago blasted the states’ justifications for their bans, several times singling out the argument that only marriage between a man and a woman should be allowed because it is - simply - tradition.

There are “bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that … are neither good nor bad - such as trick-or-treating on Halloween,” the ruling says. “Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination - regardless of the age of the tradition.”

It also laid into another argument from the states that gays should not be allowed to marry because, on their own, they can’t procreate, saying that rationale “is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.”

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B Van Hollen said he would appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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 marriage bans unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after the states appealed lower court rulings tossing the bans. The 7th Circuit halted those rulings while it considered the cases.

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Gay couples celebrate court decision in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Gay couples and their supporters are gathering in Milwaukee to celebrate an appeals court decision declaring Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Couples who filed the lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban say they realize it could be a while before the matter is settled since Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said he will appeal Thursday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Charvonne Kemp, of Milwaukee, says she is heartened by how fast the case has already moved. She says she was prepared for it to take five to 10 years to get an appeals court decision. Instead, it has taken less than 10 months.

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Gay Wisconsin couples celebrate ban ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gay couples are gathering in Madison to celebrate a federal appeals court ruling that Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

Eight gay couples challenged the ban in federal court in February. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb found the ban unconstitutional in June but stayed her ruling pending appeal. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse Crabb but the court refused on Thursday. Van Hollen has vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Still, same-sex couples gathered at Plan B, a gay bar in Madison, to celebrate with drinks and talk to reporters. Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning, one of the couples suing, said they’re thrilled and the 7th Circuit ruling sends a strong message to Washington.

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Company may limit iron mine to 1 Wisconsin county

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A company that wants to develop an iron ore mine in northwestern Wisconsin might limit the project to only one county instead of two, a company spokesman said Thursday.

Gogebic Taconite is considering building the mine solely in Iron County because of opposition from officials in adjacent Ashland County, company spokesman Bob Seitz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Bel1Zrhttp://bit.ly/1Bel1Zr ).

Gogebic’s plans have called for the proposed mine to include Ashland and Iron counties. Ashland County composes about 400 acres of the 3,200 acres of the site.

But with opposition in Ashland County, Seitz said Gogebic officials will spend the winter studying how the site could be reconfigured to operate in Iron County without the loss of major iron ore reserves.

If Ashland County is left out, the size of two open pit mines would remain roughly the same, Seitz said. But the long-term operation might shorten, perhaps from 35 to 30 years.

In late August, Gogebic said its application to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop the mine will be pushed back until at least the fall of next year. The company had planned to submit the application in the spring of 2015 but delayed the submission to gather additional environmental data.

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