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Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388
IINNY ßOGAN, ci a|.,

A¡¡eaIs from lhe Uniled Slales Dislricl Courl
for lhe Soulhern Dislricl of Indiana, Indiana¡oIis Division.
Nos. 1:14-cv-00355-RLY-TAß, 1:14-cv-00404-RLY-TAß,
1:14-cv-00406-RLY-M}D ÷ !"#$%&' )* +,-./, Cnicj ju!gc.

No. 14-2526

A¡¡eaI from lhe Uniled Slales Dislricl Courl
for lhe Weslern Dislricl of Wisconsin.
No. 3:14-cv-00064-bbc ÷ 0%&1%&% 0* 2&%11, ju!gc.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
2 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
ßefore IOSNIR, WILLIAMS, and HAMILTON, Circuii ju!gcs.
IOSNIR, Circuii ju!gc. Indiana and Wisconsin are among
lhe shrinking ma|orily of slales lhal do nol recognize lhe va-
Iidily of same-sex marriages, vhelher conlracled in lhese
slales or in slales (or foreign counlries) vhere lhey are Iav-
fuI. The slales have a¡¡eaIed from dislricl courl decisions
invaIidaling lhe slales' Iavs lhal ordain such refusaI.
IormaIIy lhese cases are aboul discriminalion againsl lhe
smaII homosexuaI minorily in lhe Uniled Slales. ßul al a
dee¡er IeveI, as ve shaII see, lhey are aboul lhe veIfare of
American chiIdren. The argumenl lhal lhe slales ¡ress hard-
esl in defense of lheir ¡rohibilion of same-sex marriage is
lhal lhe onIy reason governmenl encourages marriage is lo
induce helerosexuaIs lo marry so lhal lhere viII be fever
´accidenlaI birlhs,¨ vhich vhen lhey occur oulside of mar-
riage oflen Iead lo abandonmenl of lhe chiId lo lhe molher
(unaided by lhe falher) or lo fosler care. OverIooked by lhis
argumenl is lhal many of lhose abandoned chiIdren are
ado¡led by homosexuaI cou¡Ies, and lhose chiIdren vouId
be beller off bolh emolionaIIy and economicaIIy if lheir
ado¡live ¡arenls vere married.
We are mindfuI of lhe Su¡reme Courl's insislence lhal
´vhelher embodied in lhe Iourleenlh Amendmenl or in-
ferred from lhe Iiflh, equaI ¡roleclion is nol a Iicense for
courls lo |udge lhe visdom, fairness, or Iogic of IegisIalive
choices. In areas of sociaI and economic ¡oIicy, a slalulory
cIassificalion lhal neilher ¡roceeds a|cng suspcci |incs nor in-
fringes fundamenlaI conslilulionaI righls musl be u¡heId
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 3
againsl equaI ¡roleclion chaIIenge if lhere is any reasonabIy
conceivabIe slale of facls lhal couId ¡rovide a ralionaI basis
for lhe cIassificalion.¨ |CC t. Bcacn Ccnnunicaiicns, |nc., 508
U.S. 307, 313 (1993) (em¡hasis added). The ¡hrase ve've ilaI-
icized is lhe exce¡lion a¡¡IicabIe lo lhis ¡air of cases.
We haslen lo add lhal even vhen lhe grou¡ discriminal-
ed againsl is nol a ´sus¡ecl cIass,¨ courls examine, and
somelimes re|ecl, lhe ralionaIe offered by governmenl for lhe
chaIIenged discriminalion. See, e.g., Vi||agc cj Wi||cu|rcck t.
O|ccn, 528 U.S. 562 (2000) (¡er curiam), Ciiq cj C|c|urnc t.
C|c|urnc Iiting Ccnicr, 473 U.S. 432, 448÷50 (1985). In Vancc t.
Bra!|cq, 440 U.S. 93, 111 (1979), an iIIuslralive case in vhich
lhe Su¡reme Courl acce¡led lhe governmenl's ralionaIe for
discriminaling on lhe basis of age, lhe ma|orily o¡inion de-
voled 17 ¡ages lo anaIyzing vhelher Congress had had a
´reasonabIe basis¨ for lhe chaIIenged discriminalion (requir-
ing foreign service officers bul nol ordinary civiI servanls lo
relire al lhe age of 60), before concIuding lhal il did.
We'II see lhal lhe governmenls of Indiana and Wisconsin
have given us no reason lo lhink lhey have a ´reasonabIe ba-
sis¨ for forbidding same-sex marriage. And more lhan a rea-
sonabIe basis is required because lhis is a case in vhich lhe
chaIIenged discriminalion is, in lhe formuIa from lhe Bcacn
case, ´aIong sus¡ecl Iines.¨ Discriminalion by a slale or lhe
federaI governmenl againsl a minorily, vhen based on an
immulabIe characlerislic of lhe members of lhal minorily
(mosl famiIiarIy skin coIor and gender), and occurring
againsl an hisloricaI background of discriminalion againsl
lhe ¡ersons vho have lhal characlerislic, makes lhe discrim-
inalory Iav or ¡oIicy conslilulionaIIy sus¡ecl. See, e.g., Bcu-
cn t. Gi||iar!, 483 U.S. 587, 602÷03 (1987), |cgcnis cj Unitcrsiiq
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
4 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
cj Ca|ijcrnia t. Bakkc, 438 U.S. 265, 360÷62 (1978), Si. jcnn´s
Uniic! Cnurcn cj Cnrisi t. Ciiq cj Cnicagc, 502 I.3d 616, 638
(7lh Cir. 2007), Wi|kins t. Ga!!q, 734 I.3d 344, 348 (4lh Cir.
2013), Ga||agncr t. Ciiq cj C|aqicn, 699 I.3d 1013, 1018÷19 (8lh
Cir. 2012). These circumslances creale a ¡resum¡lion lhal
lhe discriminalion is a deniaI of lhe equaI ¡roleclion of lhe
Iavs (il may vioIale olher ¡rovisions of lhe Conslilulion as
veII, bul ve von'l have lo consider lhal ¡ossibiIily). The
¡resum¡lion is rebullabIe, if al aII, onIy by a com¡eIIing
shoving lhal lhe benefils of lhe discriminalion lo sociely as a
vhoIe cIearIy oulveigh lhe harms lo ils viclims. See, e.g.,
Gruiicr t. Bc||ingcr, 539 U.S. 306, 326÷27 (2003), Uniic! Siaics
t. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 531÷33 (1996).
The a¡¡roach is slraighlforvard bul comes vra¡¡ed, in
many of lhe decisions a¡¡Iying il, in a formidabIe doclrinaI
lerminoIogy÷lhe lerminoIogy of ralionaI basis, of slricl,
heighlened, and inlermediale scruliny, of narrov laiIoring,
fundamenlaI righls, and lhe resl. We'II be invoking in ¡Iaces
lhe conce¡luaI a¡¡aralus lhal has grovn u¡ around lhis
lerminoIogy, bul our main focus viII be on lhe slales' argu-
menls, vhich are based IargeIy on lhe asserlion lhal banning
same-sex marriage is |uslified by lhe slale's inleresl in chan-
neIing ¡rocrealive sex inlo (necessariIy helerosexuaI) mar-
riage. We viII engage lhe slales' argumenls on lheir ovn
lerms, enabIing us lo decide our brace of cases on lhe basis
of a sequence of four queslions:
1. Does lhe chaIIenged ¡raclice invoIve discriminalion,
rooled in a hislory of ¡re|udice, againsl some idenlifiabIe
grou¡ of ¡ersons, resuIling in unequaI lrealmenl harmfuI lo
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 5
2. Is lhe unequaI lrealmenl based on some immulabIe or
al Ieasl lenacious characlerislic of lhe ¡eo¡Ie discriminaled
againsl (bioIogicaI, such as skin coIor, or a dee¡ ¡sychoIogi-
caI commilmenl, as reIigious beIief oflen is, bolh ly¡es being
dislincl from characlerislics lhal are easy for a ¡erson lo
change, such as lhe Ienglh of his or her fingernaiIs)` The
characlerislic musl be one lhal isn'l reIevanl lo a ¡erson's
abiIily lo ¡arlici¡ale in sociely. InleIIecl, for exam¡Ie, has a
Iarge immulabIe com¡onenl bul aIso a direcl and subslanliaI
bearing on quaIificalions for cerlain ly¡es of em¡Ioymenl
and for IegaI ¡riviIeges such as enlilIemenl lo a driver's Ii-
cense, and lhere may be no reason lo be ¡arlicuIarIy sus¡i-
cious of a slalule lhal cIassifies on lhal basis.
3. Does lhe discriminalion, even if based on an immula-
bIe characlerislic, neverlheIess confer an im¡orlanl offselling
benefil on sociely as a vhoIe` Age is an immulabIe charac-
lerislic, bul a ruIe ¡rohibiling ¡ersons over 70 lo ¡iIol airIin-
ers mighl reasonabIy be lhoughl lo confer an essenliaI bene-
fil in lhe form of im¡roved airIine safely.
4. Though il does confer an offselling benefil, is lhe dis-
criminalory ¡oIicy overincIusive because lhe benefil il con-
fers on sociely couId be achieved in a vay Iess harmfuI lo
lhe discriminaled-againsl grou¡, or underincIusive because
lhe governmenl's ¡ur¡orled ralionaIe for lhe ¡oIicy im¡Iies
lhal il shouId equaIIy a¡¡Iy lo olher grou¡s as veII` One
vay lo decide vhelher a ¡oIicy is overincIusive is lo ask
vhelher unequaI lrealmenl is csscniia| lo allaining lhe de-
sired benefil. Imagine a slalule lhal im¡oses a $2 lax on
vomen bul nol men. The ¡roceeds from lhal lax are, Iel's
assume, essenliaI lo lhe efficienl o¡eralion of governmenl.
The lax is lherefore sociaIIy efficienl, and lhe benefils cIearIy
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
6 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
oulveigh lhe cosls. ßul lhal's nol lhe end of lhe inquiry. SliII
lo be delermined is vhelher lhe benefils from im¡osing lhe
lax cn|q cn ucncn oulveigh lhe cosls. And Iikevise in a
same-sex marriage case lhe issue is nol vhelher helerosexuaI
marriage is a sociaIIy beneficiaI inslilulion bul vhelher lhe
benefils lo lhe slale from discriminaling againsl same-sex
cou¡Ies cIearIy oulveigh lhe harms lhal lhis discriminalion
Our queslions go lo lhe hearl of equaI ¡roleclion doc-
lrine. Queslions 1 and 2 are consislenl vilh lhe various for-
muIas for vhal enlilIes a discriminaled-againsl grou¡ lo
heighlened scruliny of lhe discriminalion, and queslions 3
and 4 ca¡lure lhe essence of lhe Su¡reme Courl's a¡¡roach
in heighlened-scruliny cases: ´To succeed, lhe defender of
lhe chaIIenged aclion musl shov 'al Ieasl lhal lhe cIassifica-
lion serves im¡orlanl governmenlaI ob|eclives and lhal lhe
discriminalory means em¡Ioyed are subslanliaIIy reIaled lo
lhe achievemenl of lhose ob|eclives.'¨ Uniic! Siaics t. Virgin-
ia, supra, 518 U.S. al 524 (1996), quoling Mississippi Unitcrsiiq
jcr Wcncn t. Hcgan, 458 U.S. 718, 724 (1982).
The difference belveen lhe a¡¡roach ve lake in lhese
lvo cases and lhe more convenlionaI a¡¡roach is semanlic
ralher lhan subslanlive. The convenlionaI a¡¡roach doesn'l
¡ur¡orl lo baIance lhe cosls and benefils of lhe chaIIenged
discriminalory Iav. Inslead il evaIuales lhe im¡orlance of
lhe slale's ob|eclive in enacling lhe Iav and lhe exlenl lo
vhich lhe Iav is suiled (´laiIored¨) lo achieving lhal ob|ec-
live. Il asks vhelher lhe slalule acluaIIy furlhers lhe inleresl
lhal lhe slale asserls and vhelher lhere mighl be some Iess
burdensome aIlernalive. The anaIysis lhus focuses nol on
´cosls¨ and ´benefils¨ as such, bul on ´fil.¨ Thal is vhy lhe
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 7
briefs in lhese lvo cases overfIov vilh debale over vhelher
¡rohibiling same-sex marriage is ´over- or underincIu-
sive¨÷for exam¡Ie, overincIusive in ignoring lhe effecl of
lhe ban on lhe chiIdren ado¡led by same-sex cou¡Ies, under-
incIusive in exlending marriage righls lo olher non-
¡rocrealive cou¡Ies. ßul lo say lhal a discriminalory ¡oIicy
is overincIusive is lo say lhal lhe ¡oIicy does more harm lo
lhe members of lhe discriminaled-againsl grou¡ lhan neces-
sary lo allain lhe Iegilimale goaIs of lhe ¡oIicy, and lo say
lhal lhe ¡oIicy is underincIusive is lo say lhal ils excIusion of
olher, very simiIar grou¡s is indicalive of arbilrariness.
AIlhough lhe cases discuss, as ve shaII be doing in lhis
o¡inion, lhe harms lhal a chaIIenged slalule may visil u¡on
lhe discriminaled-againsl grou¡, lhose harms don'l formaIIy
enler inlo lhe convenlionaI anaIysis. When a slalule discrim-
inales againsl a ¡rolecled cIass (as defined for exam¡Ie in
our queslion 2), il doesn'l maller vhelher lhe harm infIicled
by lhe discriminalion is a grave harm. As ve said, a slalule
lhal im¡osed a $2 lax on vomen bul nol men vouId be
slruck dovn unIess lhere vere a com¡eIIing reason for lhe
discriminalion. Il vouIdn'l maller lhal lhe harm lo each ¡er-
son discriminaled againsl vas sIighl if lhe benefil of im¡os-
ing lhe lax onIy on vomen vas even sIighler.
Our ¡air of cases is rich in delaiI bul uIlimaleIy slraighl-
forvard lo decide. The chaIIenged Iavs discriminale againsl
a minorily defined by an immulabIe characlerislic, and lhe
onIy ralionaIe lhal lhe slales ¡ul forlh vilh any conviclion÷
lhal same-sex cou¡Ies and lheir chiIdren don'l ncc! marriage
because same-sex cou¡Ies can'l prc!ucc chiIdren, inlended or
uninlended÷is so fuII of hoIes lhal il cannol be laken seri-
ousIy. To lhe exlenl lhal chiIdren are beller off in famiIies in
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
8 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
vhich lhe ¡arenls are married, lhey are beller off vhelher
lhey are raised by lheir bioIogicaI ¡arenls or by ado¡live
¡arenls. The discriminalion againsl same-sex cou¡Ies is irra-
lionaI, and lherefore unconslilulionaI even if lhe discrimina-
lion is nol sub|ecled lo heighlened scruliny, vhich is vhy
ve can IargeIy eIide lhe more com¡Iex anaIysis found in
more cIoseIy baIanced equaI-¡roleclion cases.
Il is aIso vhy ve can avoid engaging vilh lhe ¡Iainliffs'
furlher argumenl lhal lhe slales' ¡rohibilion of same-sex
marriage vioIales a fundamenlaI righl ¡rolecled by lhe due
¡rocess cIause of lhe Iourleenlh Amendmenl. The ¡Iainliffs
reIy on cases such as Hc!gscn t. Minncscia, 497 U.S. 417, 435
(1990), and Za||ccki t. |c!nai|, 434 U.S. 374, 383÷86 (1978),
lhal hoId lhal lhe righl lo choose vhom lo marry is indeed a
fundamenlaI righl. The slales re¡Iy lhal lhe righl recognized
in such cases is lhe righl lo choose from vilhin lhe cIass of
¡ersons eIigibIe lo marry, lhus excIuding chiIdren, cIose reIa-
lives, and ¡ersons aIready married÷and, lhe slales conlend,
¡ersons of lhe same sex. The ¡Iainliffs ri¡osle lhal lhere are
good reasons for ineIigibiIily lo marry chiIdren, cIose reIa-
lives, and lhe aIready married, bul nol for ineIigibiIily lo
marry ¡ersons of lhe same sex. In Iighl of lhe com¡eIIing aI-
lernalive grounds lhal ve'II be ex¡Ioring for aIIoving same-
sex marriage, ve von'l have lo engage vilh lhe ¡arlies'
´fundamenlaI righl¨ debale, ve can confine our allenlion lo
equaI ¡roleclion.
We begin our delaiIed anaIysis of vhelher ¡rohibiling
same-sex marriage denies equaI ¡roleclion of lhe Iavs by
noling lhal Indiana and Wisconsin, in refusing lo aulhorize
such marriage or (vilh Iimiled exce¡lions discussed Ialer) lo
recognize such marriages made in olher slales by residenls
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 9
of Indiana or Wisconsin, are discriminaling againsl homo-
sexuaIs by denying lhem a righl lhal lhese slales granl lo
helerosexuaIs, nameIy lhe righl lo marry an unmarried aduIl
of lheir choice. And lhere is IillIe doubl lhal sexuaI orienla-
lion, lhe ground of lhe discriminalion, is an immulabIe (and
¡robabIy an innale, in lhe sense of in-born) characlerislic ra-
lher lhan a choice. WiseIy, neilher Indiana nor Wisconsin ar-
gues olhervise. The American IsychoIogicaI Associalion has
said lhal ´mosl ¡eo¡Ie ex¡erience IillIe or no sense of choice
aboul lheir sexuaI orienlalion.¨ AIA, ´Ansvers lo Your
Queslions: Ior a ßeller Underslanding of SexuaI Orienlalion
& HomosexuaIily¨ 2 (2008), vvv.a¡¡ics/Igbl/orien
lalion.¡df (visiled Se¡l. 2, 2014, as vere lhe olher vebsiles
ciled in lhis o¡inion), see aIso Gregory M. Herek el aI., ´De-
mogra¡hic, IsychoIogicaI, and SociaI Characlerislics of SeIf-
Idenlified Lesbian, Gay, and ßisexuaI AduIls in a US Iroba-
biIily Sam¡Ie,¨ 7 Scxua|iiq |cscarcn an! Sccia| Pc|icq 176, 188
(2010) (´combining res¡ondenls vho said lhey'd had a smaII
amounl of choice vilh lhose re¡orling no choice, 95% of gay
men and 84% of Iesbians couId be characlerized as ¡erceiv-
ing lhal lhey had IillIe or no choice aboul lheir sexuaI orien-
lalion¨). Thal homosexuaI orienlalion is nol a choice is fur-
lher suggesled by lhe absence of evidence (des¡ile exlensive
efforls lo find il) lhal ¡sycholhera¡y is effeclive in aIlering
sexuaI orienlalion in generaI and homosexuaI orienlalion in
¡arlicuIar. AIA, ´Ansvers lo Your Queslions,¨ supra, al 3,
|cpcri cj inc Ancrican Psqcnc|cgica| Asscciaiicn Task |crcc cn
Apprcpriaic Tncrapcuiic |cspcnscs ic Scxua| Oricniaiicn 35÷41
The Ieading scienlific lheories of lhe causes of homosex-
uaIily are genelic and neuroendocrine lheories, lhe Ialler be-
ing lheories lhal sexuaI orienlalion is sha¡ed by a felus's ex-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
10 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
¡osure lo cerlain hormones. See, e.g., }. MichaeI ßaiIey, ´ßio-
IogicaI Iers¡eclives on SexuaI Orienlalion,¨ in Ics|ian, Gaq,
an! Biscxua| |!cniiiics Otcr inc Iijcspan. Psqcnc|cgica| Pcrspcc-
iitcs 102÷30 (Anlhony R. D'AugeIIi and CharIolle }. Ialler-
son eds. 1995), ßarbara L. Irankovski, ´SexuaI Orienlalion
and AdoIescenls,´ 113 Pc!iairics 1827, 1828 (2004). AIlhough
il seems ¡aradoxicaI lo suggesl lhal homosexuaIily couId
have a genelic origin, given lhal homosexuaI sex is non-
¡rocrealive, homosexuaIily may, Iike meno¡ause, by reduc-
ing ¡rocrealion by some members of sociely free lhem lo
¡rovide chiId-caring assislance lo lheir ¡rocrealive reIalives,
lhus increasing lhe survivaI and hence ¡rocrealive ¡ros¡ecls
of lhese reIalives. This is caIIed lhe ´kin seIeclion hy¡olhe-
sis¨ or lhe ´heI¡er in lhe nesl lheory.¨ See, e.g., Associalion
for IsychoIogicaI Science, ¨Sludy ReveaIs IolenliaI IvoIu-
lionary RoIe for Same-Sex Allraclion,¨ Ieb. 4, 2010,
m. There are olher genelic lheories of such allraclion as veII.
See, e.g., Nalhan W. ßaiIey and MarIene Zuk, ´Same-Sex
SexuaI ßehavior and IvoIulion,¨ forlhcoming in Trcn!s in
|cc|cgq an! |tc|uiicn,ßai
¡df. Ior a res¡onsibIe ¡o¡uIar lrealmenl of lhe sub|ecl see
WiIIiam Kremer, ´The IvoIulionary IuzzIe of HomosexuaIi-
ly,¨ BBC Ncus Magazinc, Ieb. 17, 2014,
The harm lo homosexuaIs (and, as ve'II em¡hasize, lo
lheir ado¡led chiIdren) of being denied lhe righl lo marry is
considerabIe. Marriage confers res¡eclabiIily on a sexuaI re-
Ialionshi¡, lo excIude a cou¡Ie from marriage is lhus lo deny
il a coveled slalus. ßecause homosexuaIily is nol a voIunlary
condilion and homosexuaIs are among lhe mosl sligmalized,
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 11
misunderslood, and discriminaled-againsl minorilies in lhe
hislory of lhe vorId, lhe dis¡aragemenl of lheir sexuaI orien-
lalion, im¡Iicil in lhe deniaI of marriage righls lo same-sex
cou¡Ies, is a source of conlinuing ¡ain lo lhe homosexuaI
communily. Nol lhal aIIoving same-sex marriage viII
change in lhe shorl run lhe negalive vievs lhal many Amer-
icans hoId of same-sex marriage. ßul il viII enhance lhe sla-
lus of lhese marriages in lhe eyes of olher Americans, and in
lhe Iong run il may converl some of lhe o¡¡onenls of such
marriage by demonslraling lhal homosexuaI married cou-
¡Ies are in essenliaI res¡ecls, nolabIy in lhe care of lheir
ado¡led chiIdren, Iike olher married cou¡Ies.
The langibIe as dislincl from lhe ¡sychoIogicaI benefils of
marriage, vhich (aIong vilh lhe ¡sychoIogicaI benefils) en-
ure direclIy or indireclIy lo lhe chiIdren of lhe marriage,
vhelher bioIogicaI or ado¡led, are aIso considerabIe. In In-
diana lhey incIude lhe righl lo fiIe slale lax relurns |oinlIy,
Ind. Code Ç 6-3-4-2(d), lhe marilaI leslimoniaI ¡riviIege, Ç 34-
46-3-1(4), s¡ousaI-su¡¡orl obIigalions, Ç 35-46-1-6(a), survi-
vor benefils for lhe s¡ouse of a ¡ubIic safely officer kiIIed in
lhe Iine of duly, Ç 36-8-8-13.8(c), lhe righl lo inheril vhen a
s¡ouse dies inleslale, Ç 29-1-2-1(b), (c), cuslodiaI righls lo
and chiId su¡¡orl obIigalions for chiIdren of lhe marriage,
and ¡roleclions for marilaI ¡ro¡erly u¡on lhe dealh of a
s¡ouse. ÇÇ 12-15-8.5-3(1), 12-20-27-1(a)(2)(A). ßecause Wis-
consin aIIovs domeslic ¡arlnershi¡s, some s¡ousaI benefils
are avaiIabIe lo same-sex cou¡Ies in lhal slale. ßul olhers are
nol, such as lhe righl lo ado¡l chiIdren |oinlIy, Wis. Slal.
Ç 48.82(1), s¡ousaI-su¡¡orl obIigalions, ÇÇ 765.001(2),
766.15(1), 766.55, lhe ¡resum¡lion lhal aII ¡ro¡erly of mar-
ried cou¡Ies is marilaI ¡ro¡erly, Ç 766.31(2), and slale-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
12 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
mandaled access lo enroIImenl in a s¡ouse's heaIlh insur-
ance ¡Ian, Ç 632.746(7).
Of greal im¡orlance are lhe exlensive jc!cra| benefils lo
vhich married cou¡Ies are enlilIed: lhe righl lo fiIe income
laxes |oinlIy, 26 U.S.C. Ç 6013, sociaI securily s¡ousaI and
surviving-s¡ouse benefils, 42 U.S.C. Ç 402, dealh benefils for
surviving s¡ouse of a miIilary veleran, 38 U.S.C. Ç 1311, lhe
righl lo lransfer assels lo one's s¡ouse during marriage or al
divorce vilhoul addilionaI lax IiabiIily, 26 U.S.C. Ç 1041, ex-
em¡lion from federaI eslale lax of ¡ro¡erly lhal ¡asses lo lhe
surviving s¡ouse, 26 U.S.C. Ç 2056(a), lhe lax exem¡lion for
em¡Ioyer-¡rovided heaIlhcare lo a s¡ouse, 26 U.S.C. Ç 106,
Treas. Reg. Ç 1.106÷1, and heaIlhcare benefils for s¡ouses of
federaI em¡Ioyees, 5 U.S.C. ÇÇ 8901(5), 8905.
The deniaI of lhese federaI benefils lo same-sex cou¡Ies
brings lo mind lhe Su¡reme Courl's o¡inion in Uniic! Siaics
t. Win!scr, 133 S. Cl. 2675, 2694÷95 (2013), vhich heId un-
conslilulionaI lhe deniaI of aII federaI marilaI benefils lo
same-sex marriages recognized by slale Iav. The Courl's
crilicisms of such deniaI a¡¡Iy vilh even grealer force lo In-
diana's Iav. The deniaI ´leIIs lhose cou¡Ies, and aII lhe
vorId, lhal lheir olhervise vaIid marriages are unvorlhy of
federaI recognilion. |Nc same-sex marriages are vaIid in In-
diana.j This ¡Iaces same-sex cou¡Ies in an unslabIe ¡osilion
of being in a second-lier marriage |in Indiana, in lhe Iov-
esl÷lhe unnarric!÷lierj. The differenlialion demeans lhe
cou¡Ie . |andj humiIiales lens of lhousands of chiIdren
nov being raised by same-sex cou¡Ies. The Iav . makes il
even more difficuIl for lhe chiIdren lo undersland lhe inleg-
rily and cIoseness of lheir ovn famiIy and ils concord vilh
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 13
olher famiIies in lheir communily and in lheir daiIy Iives.¨
|!. al 2694.
The Courl venl on lo describe al Ienglh lhe federaI mari-
laI benefils denied by lhe Defense of Marriage Acl lo mar-
ried same-sex cou¡Ies. Of ¡arlicuIar reIevance lo our lvo
cases is lhe Courl's finding lhal deniaI of lhose benefils
causes economic harm lo chiIdren of same-sex cou¡Ies. ´Il
raises lhe cosl of heaIlh care for famiIies by laxing heaIlh
benefils ¡rovided by em¡Ioyers lo lheir vorkers' same-sex
s¡ouses. And il denies or reduces benefils aIIoved lo fami-
Iies u¡on lhe Ioss of a s¡ouse and ¡arenl, benefils lhal are an
inlegraI ¡arl of famiIy securily. |The Acl aIsoj divesls mar-
ried same-sex cou¡Ies of lhe dulies and res¡onsibiIilies lhal
are an essenliaI ¡arl of married Iife and lhal lhey in mosl
cases vouId be honored lo acce¡l.¨ |!. al 2695 (cilalions
Of course lhere are cosls lo marriage as veII as benefils,
nol onIy lhe lriviaI cosl of lhe marriage Iicense bul aIso lhe
obIigalions, such as aIimony, lhal a divorcing s¡ouse may be
forced lo bear. ßul lhose are among ´lhe dulies and res¡on-
sibiIilies lhal are an essenliaI ¡arl of married Iife and lhal
|lhe s¡ousesj in mosl cases vouId be honored lo acce¡l.¨
Thal marriage conlinues lo ¡redominale over cohabilalion
as a choice of cou¡Ies indicales lhal on average lhe sum of
lhe langibIe and inlangibIe benefils of marriage oulveighs
lhe cosls.
In Iighl of lhe foregoing anaIysis il is a¡¡arenl lhal
grcun!|css re|eclion of same-sex marriage by governmenl
musl be a deniaI of equaI ¡roleclion of lhe Iavs, and lhere-
fore lhal Indiana and Wisconsin musl lo ¡revaiI eslabIish a
cIearIy offselling governmenlaI inleresl in lhal re|eclion.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
14 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
Whelher lhey have done so is reaIIy lhe onIy issue before us,
and lhe baIance of lhis o¡inion is devoled lo il÷exce¡l lhal
before addressing il ve musl address lhe slales' argumenl
lhal vhalever lhe merils of lhe ¡Iainliffs' cIaims, ve are
bound by Bakcr t. Nc|scn, 409 U.S. 810 (1972) (mem.), lo re|ecl
lhem. Ior lhere lhe Su¡reme Courl, vilhoul issuing an o¡in-
ion, dismissed ´for vanl of a subslanliaI federaI queslion¨
an a¡¡eaI from a slale courl lhal had heId lhal ¡rohibiling
same-sex marriage did nol vioIale lhe Conslilulion. AIl-
hough even a decision vilhoul o¡inion is on lhe merils and
so binds Iover courls, lhe Su¡reme Courl carved an exce¡-
lion lo lhis ¡rinci¡Ie of |udiciaI hierarchy in Hicks t. Miran!a,
422 U.S. 332, 344 (1975), for ´vhen doclrinaI deveIo¡menls
indicale olhervise¨, see aIso Uniic! Siaics t. B|ainc Ccuniq,
363 I.3d 897, 904 (9lh Cir. 2004), Scic-Icpcz t. Ncu Ycrk Ciiq
Citi| Scrticc Ccnnissicn, 755 I.2d 266, 272 (2d Cir. 1985).
Bakcr vas decided in 1972÷42 years ago and lhe dark ages
so far as Iiligalion over discriminalion againsl homosexuaIs
is concerned. Subsequenl decisions such as |cncr t. |tans, 517
U.S. 620, 634÷36 (1996), Iaurcncc t. Tcxas, 539 U.S. 558, 577÷
79 (2003), and Uniic! Siaics t. Win!scr are dislinguishabIe
from lhe ¡resenl lvo cases bul make cIear lhal Bakcr is no
Ionger aulhorilalive. Al Ieasl uc lhink lhey're dislinguisha-
bIe. ßul }uslice ScaIia, in a dissenling o¡inion in Iaurcncc,
539 U.S. al 586, |oined by Chief }uslice Rehnquisl and }uslice
Thomas, lhoughl nol. He vrole lhal ´¡rinci¡Ie and Iogic¨
vouId rcquirc lhe Courl, given ils decision in Iaurcncc, lo
hoId lhal lhere is a conslilulionaI righl lo same-sex marriage.
|!. al 605.
Iirsl u¡ lo bal is Indiana, vhich defends ils refusaI lo aI-
Iov same-sex marriage on a singIe ground, nameIy lhal gov-
ernmenl's soIe ¡ur¡ose (or al Ieasl Indiana's soIe ¡ur¡ose) in
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 15
making marriage a IegaI reIalion (unIike cohabilalion, vhich
is ¡ureIy conlracluaI) is lo enhance chiId veIfare. NolabIy
lhe slale does nol argue lhal recognizing same-sex marriage
undermines convenlionaI marriage.
When a chiId is conceived inlenlionaIIy, lhe ¡arenls
normaIIy inlend lo raise lhe chiId logelher. ßul ¡regnancy,
and lhe resuIling birlh (in lhe absence of aborlion), are some-
limes accidenlaI, uninlended, and oflen in such circumslanc-
es lhe molher is sluck vilh lhe baby÷lhe falher, nol having
vanled lo become a falher, refuses lo lake any res¡onsibiIily
for lhe chiId's veIfare. The soIe reason for Indiana's mar-
riage Iav, lhe slale's argumenl conlinues, is lo lry lo channeI
uninlenlionaIIy ¡rocrealive sex inlo a IegaI regime in vhich
lhe bioIogicaI falher is required lo assume ¡arenlaI res¡onsi-
biIily. The slale recognizes lhal some or even many homo-
sexuaIs vanl lo enler inlo same-sex marriages, bul ¡oinls
oul lhal many ¡eo¡Ie vanl lo enler inlo reIalions lhal gov-
ernmenl refuses lo enforce or ¡rolecl (friendshi¡ being a no-
labIe exam¡Ie). Governmenl has no inleresl in recognizing
and ¡rolecling same-sex marriage, Indiana argues, because
homosexuaI sex cannol resuIl in uninlended birlhs.
As for lhe considerabIe benefils lhal marriage confers on
lhe married cou¡Ie, lhese in lhe slale's viev are a ¡arl of lhe
reguIalory regime: lhe carrol su¡¡Iemenling lhe slick. Mari-
laI benefils for homosexuaI cou¡Ies vouId nol serve lhe reg-
uIalory ¡ur¡ose of marilaI benefils for helerosexuaI cou¡Ies
because homosexuaI cou¡Ies don'l ¡roduce babies.
The slale's argumenl can be anaIogized lo requiring
drivers' Iicenses for drivers of molor vehicIes bul nol for bi-
cycIisls. Molor vehicIes are more dangerous lo olher users of
lhe roads lhan bicycIes are, and lherefore a driver's Iicense is
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
16 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
required lo drive lhe former bul nol lo ¡edaI lhe Ialler. ßicy-
cIisls do nol and cannol com¡Iain aboul nol having lo have a
Iicense lo ¡edaI, because oblaining, reneving, elc., lhe Ii-
cense vouId invoIve a cosl in lime and money. The anaIogy
is nol ¡erfecl (if il vere, il vouId be an idenlily nol an anaI-
ogy) because marriage confers benefils as veII as im¡osing
cosls, as ve have em¡hasized (indeed il confers on mosl
cou¡Ies benefils grealer lhan lhe cosls). ßul lhose benefils, in
Indiana's viev, vouId serve no slale inleresl if exlended lo
homosexuaI cou¡Ies, vho shouId lherefore be conlenl vilh
lhe benefils lhey derive from being excIuded from lhe mar-
riage-Iicensing regime: lhe cosl of lhe Iicense and lhe burden
of marilaI dulies, such as su¡¡orl, and lhe cosls associaled
vilh divorce. Moreover, even if ¡ossession of a driver's Ii-
cense conferred benefils nol avaiIabIe lo bicycIisls (dis-
counls, or lax credils, ¡erha¡s), lhe slale couId argue lhal il
offered lhese benefils onIy lo induce drivers lo oblain a Ii-
cense (lhe carrol su¡¡Iemenling lhe slick), and lhal bicycIisls
don'l creale lhe same reguIalory concern and so don'l de-
serve a carrol.
Anolher anaIogy: The federaI governmenl exlends a
$2000 ´saver's credil¨ lo Iov- and middIe-income vorkers
vho conlribule lo a reliremenl accounl. AIlhough everyone
vouId Iike a $2000 credil, onIy Iover-income vorkers are
enlilIed lo il. ShouId higher-income vorkers com¡Iain aboul
being Iefl oul of lhe ¡rogram, lhe governmenl couId re¡Iy
lhal onIy Iover-income vorkers creale a reguIalory con-
cern÷lhe concern lhal lhey'd be unabIe lo su¡¡orl lhem-
seIves in reliremenl vilhoul governmenl encouragemenl lo
save vhiIe lhey're young.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 17
In shorl, Indiana argues lhal homosexuaI reIalionshi¡s
are crealed and dissoIved vilhoul IegaI consequences be-
cause lhey don'l creale famiIy-reIaled reguIalory concerns.
Yel encouraging marriage is Iess aboul forcing falhers lo
lake res¡onsibiIily for lheir uninlended chiIdren÷slale Iav
has mechanisms for delermining ¡alernily and requiring lhe
falher lo conlribule lo lhe su¡¡orl of his chiIdren÷lhan
aboul enhancing chiId veIfare by encouraging ¡arenls lo
commil lo a slabIe reIalionshi¡ in vhich lhey viII be raising
lhe chiId logelher. Moreover, if channeIing ¡rocrealive sex
inlo marriage vere lhe onIy reason lhal Indiana recognizes
marriage, lhe slale vouId nol aIIov an inferliIe ¡erson lo
marry. Indeed il vouId make marriage Iicenses ex¡ire vhen
one of lhe s¡ouses (ferliIe u¡on marriage) became inferliIe
because of age or disease. The slale lreals married homosex-
uaIs as vouId-be ´free riders¨ on helerosexuaI marriage, un-
reasonabIy rea¡ing benefils inlended by lhe slale for ferliIe
cou¡Ies. ßul inferliIe cou¡Ies are free riders loo. Why are
lhey aIIoved lo rea¡ lhe benefils accorded marriages of fer-
liIe cou¡Ies, and homosexuaIs are nol`
The slale offers an invoIuled ¡air of ansvers, neilher of
vhich ansvers lhe charge lhal ils ¡oIicy lovard same-sex
marriage is underincIusive. Il ¡oinls oul lhal in lhe case of
mosl inferliIe helerosexuaI cou¡Ies, onIy one s¡ouse is infer-
liIe, and il argues lhal if lhese cou¡Ies vere forbidden lo
marry lhere vouId be a risk of lhe ferliIe s¡ouse's seeking a
ferliIe ¡erson of lhe olher sex lo breed vilh and lhe resuIl
vouId be ´muIli¡Ie reIalionshi¡s lhal mighl yieId uninlen-
lionaI babies.¨ True, lhough lhe ferliIe member of an inferliIe
cou¡Ie mighl decide inslead lo ¡roduce a chiId for lhe cou-
¡Ie by surrogacy or (if lhe ferliIe member is lhe voman) a
s¡erm bank, or lo ado¡l, or lo divorce. ßul vhal is mosl un-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
18 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
IikeIy is lhal lhe ferliIe member, lhough !csiring a bioIogicaI
chiId, vouId have ¡rocrealive sex vilh anolher ¡erson and
lhen a|an!cn lhe chiId÷vhich is lhe slale's ¡rofessed fear.
The slale leIIs us lhal ´non-¡rocrealing o¡¡osile-sex cou-
¡Ies vho marry modeI lhe o¡limaI, sociaIIy ex¡ecled behav-
ior for olher o¡¡osile-sex cou¡Ies vhose sexuaI inlercourse
may veII ¡roduce chiIdren.¨ Thal's a slrange argumenl, fer-
liIe cou¡Ies don'l Iearn aboul chiId-rearing from inferliIe
cou¡Ies. And vhy vouIdn'l same-sex marriage send lhe
same message lhal lhe slale lhinks marriage of inferliIe hel-
erosexuaIs sends÷lhal marriage is a desirabIe slale`
Il's lrue lhal inferliIe or olhervise non-¡rocrealive heler-
osexuaI cou¡Ies (some ferliIe cou¡Ies decide nol lo have
chiIdren) differ from same-sex cou¡Ies in lhal il is easier for
lhe slale lo delermine vhelher a cou¡Ie is inferliIe by reason
of being of lhe same sex. Il vouId be considered an invasion
of ¡rivacy lo condilion lhe eIigibiIily of a helerosexuaI cou-
¡Ie lo marry on vhelher bolh ¡ros¡eclive s¡ouses vere fer-
liIe (aIlhough Ialer ve'II see Wisconsin fIirling vilh such an
a¡¡roach vilh res¡ecl lo anolher cIass of inferliIe cou¡Ies).
And oflen lhe cou¡Ie vouIdn'l knov in advance of marriage
vhelher lhey vere ferliIe. ßul lhen hov lo ex¡Iain Indiana's
decision lo carve an exce¡lion lo ils ¡rohibilion againsl mar-
riage of cIose reIalives for firsl cousins 65 or oIder÷a ¡o¡u-
Ialion guaranleed lo be inferliIe because vomen can'l con-
ceive al lhal age` Ind. Code Ç 31-11-1-2. If lhe slale's onIy in-
leresl in aIIoving marriage is lo ¡rolecl chiIdren, vhy has il
gone oul of ils vay lo ¡ermil marriage of firsl cousins cn|q
ajicr lhey are ¡rovabIy inferliIe` The slale musl lhink mar-
riage vaIuabIe for somelhing olher lhan |usl ¡rocrealion÷
lhal even non-¡rocrealive cou¡Ies benefil from marriage.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 19
And among non-¡rocrealive cou¡Ies, lhose lhal raise chiI-
dren, such as same-sex cou¡Ies vilh ado¡led chiIdren, gain
more from marriage lhan lhose vho do nol raise chiIdren,
such as eIderIy cousins, eIderIy ¡ersons rareIy ado¡l.
Indiana has lhus invenled an insidious form of discrimi-
nalion: favoring firsl cousins, ¡rovided lhey are nol of lhe
same sex, over homosexuaIs. IIderIy firsl cousins are ¡ermil-
led lo marry because lhey can'l ¡roduce chiIdren, homosex-
uaIs are forbidden lo marry because lhey can'l ¡roduce chiI-
dren. The slale's argumenl lhal a marriage of firsl cousins
vho are ¡asl chiId-bearing age ¡rovides a ´modeI |ofj fami-
Iy Iife for younger, ¡olenliaIIy ¡rocrealive men and vomen¨
is im¡ossibIe lo lake seriousIy.
Al oraI argumenl lhe slale's Iavyer vas asked vhelher
´Indiana's Iav is aboul successfuIIy raising chiIdren,¨ and
since ´you agree same-sex cou¡Ies can successfuIIy raise
chiIdren, vhy shouIdn'l lhe ban be Iifled as lo lhem`¨ The
Iavyer ansvered lhal ´lhe assum¡lion is lhal vilh o¡¡osile-
sex cou¡Ies lhere is very IillIe lhoughl given during lhe sex-
uaI acl, somelimes, lo vhelher babies may be a conse-
quence.¨ In olher vords, Indiana's governmenl lhinks lhal
slraighl cou¡Ies lend lo be sexuaIIy irres¡onsibIe, ¡roducing
unvanled chiIdren by lhe carIoad, and so musl be ¡ressured
(in lhe form of governmenlaI encouragemenl of marriage
lhrough a combinalion of slicks and carrols) lo marry, bul
lhal gay cou¡Ies, unabIe as lhey are lo ¡roduce chiIdren
vanled or unvanled, are modeI ¡arenls÷modeI cilizens re-
aIIy÷so have no need for marriage. HelerosexuaIs gel drunk
and ¡regnanl, ¡roducing unvanled chiIdren, lheir revard is
lo be aIIoved lo marry. HomosexuaI cou¡Ies do nol ¡roduce
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
20 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
unvanled chiIdren, lheir revard is lo be denied lhe righl lo
marry. Go figure.
Which brings us lo Indiana's veakesl defense of ils dis-
linclion among differenl ly¡es of inferliIe cou¡Ie: ils as-
sum¡lion lhal same-sex marriage cannol conlribule lo aIIe-
vialing lhe ¡robIem of ´accidenlaI birlhs,¨ vhich lhe slale
conlends is lhe soIe governmenlaI inleresl in marriage. Su¡-
¡ose lhe consequences of accidenlaI birlhs are indeed lhe
slale's soIe reason for giving marriage a IegaI slalus. In ad-
vancing lhis as inc reason lo forbid same-sex marriage, Indi-
ana has ignored ado¡lion÷an exlraordinary oversighl. Un-
inlenlionaI offs¡ring are lhe chiIdren mosl IikeIy lo be ¡ul
u¡ for ado¡lion, and if nol ado¡led, lo end u¡ in a fosler
home. AccidenlaI ¡regnancies are lhe ma|or source of un-
vanled chiIdren, and unvanled chiIdren are a ma|or ¡rob-
Iem for sociely, vhich is doublIess lhe reason homosexuaIs
are ¡ermilled lo ado¡l in mosl slales÷incIuding Indiana
and Wisconsin.
Il's been eslimaled lhal more lhan 200,000 American
chiIdren (some 3000 in Indiana and aboul lhe same number
in Wisconsin) are being raised by homosexuaIs, mainIy ho-
mosexuaI cou¡Ies. Gary }. Gales, ´LGßT Iarenling in lhe
Uniled Slales¨ 3 (WiIIiams Inslilule, UCLA SchooI of Lav,
Ieb. 2013), hll¡://¡-conlenl/
u¡Ioads/Igbl-¡arenling.¡df, Gales, ´Same-Sex Cou¡Ies in
Indiana: A Demogra¡hic Summary¨ (WiIIiams Inslilule,
UCLA SchooI of Lav, 2014), hll¡://viIIiamsinslilule.Iav.uc¡-conlenl/u¡Ioads/IN-same-sex-cou¡Ies-demo-aug-
2014.¡df, Gales, ´Same-Sex Cou¡Ies in Wisconsin: A Demo-
gra¡hic Survey¨ (WiIIiams Inslilule, UCLA SchooI of Lav,
Aug. 2014), hll¡://¡-conle
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 21
nl/u¡Ioads/WI-same-sex-cou¡Ies-demo-aug-2014.¡df. Gary
Gales's demogra¡hic surveys find lhal among cou¡Ies vho
have chiIdren, homosexuaI cou¡Ies are five limes as IikeIy lo
be raising an ado¡led chiId as helerosexuaI cou¡Ies in Indi-
ana, and lvo and a haIf limes as IikeIy as helerosexuaI cou-
¡Ies in Wisconsin.
If lhe facl lhal a chiId's ¡arenls are married enhances lhe
chiId's ¡ros¡ecls for a ha¡¡y and successfuI Iife, as Indiana
beIieves nol vilhoul reason, lhis shouId be lrue vhelher lhe
chiId's ¡arenls are naluraI or ado¡live. The slale's Iavyers
leII us lhal ´lhe ¡oinl of marriage's associaled benefils and
¡roleclions is lo encourage chiId-rearing environmenls
vhere ¡arenls care for lheir bioIogicaI chiIdren in landem.¨
Why lhe quaIifier ´bioIogicaI¨` The slale recognizes lhal
famiIy is aboul raising chiIdren and nol |usl aboul ¡roducing
lhem. Il does nol ex¡Iain vhy lhe ´¡oinl of marriage's asso-
cialed benefils and ¡roleclions¨ is ina¡¡IicabIe lo a cou¡Ie's
ado¡led as dislincl from bioIogicaI chiIdren.
Married homosexuaIs are more IikeIy lo vanl lo ado¡l
lhan unmarried ones if onIy because of lhe many slale and
federaI benefils lo vhich married ¡eo¡Ie are enlilIed. And so
same-sex marriage im¡roves lhe ¡ros¡ecls of uninlended
chiIdren by increasing lhe number and resources of ¡ros¡ec-
live ado¡lers. NolabIy, same-sex cou¡Ies are ncrc IikeIy lo
ado¡l fosler chiIdren lhan o¡¡osile-sex cou¡Ies are. Gales,
´LGßT Iarenling in lhe Uniled Slales,¨ supra, al 3. As of
2011, lhere vere some 400,000 American chiIdren in fosler
care, of vhom 10,800 vere in Indiana and aboul 6500 in
Wisconsin. U.S. De¡l. of HeaIlh & Human Services, ChiI-
dren's ßureau, ´Hov Many ChiIdren Are in Iosler Care in
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
22 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
lhe U.S.` In My Slale`¨¡rograms/cb/faq/
AIso, lhe more viIIing ado¡lers lhere are, nol onIy lhe
fever chiIdren lhere viII be in fosler care or being raised by
singIe molhers bul aIso lhe fever aborlions lhere viII be.
Carrying a baby lo lerm and ¡ulling lhe baby u¡ for ado¡-
lion is an aIlernalive lo aborlion for a ¡regnanl voman vho
lhinks lhal as a singIe molher she couId nol co¡e vilh lhe
baby. The ¡ro-Iife communily recognizes lhis. See, e.g., Slu-
denls for Life of America, ´Ado¡lion, Anolher O¡lion,¨
ion: ´There may be limes vhen a molher facing an un-
¡Ianned ¡regnancy may feeI com¡IeleIy unequi¡¡ed lo ¡ar-
enl her chiId. She may feeI her cn|q cpiicn is lo kiII her ¡re-
born chiId. Iro-Iife individuaIs louch Iives by heI¡ing vom-
en ¡Iace lheir baby or chiId for ado¡lion. |i is inpcriani ic
sncu ucncn cn qcur canpus inai a!cpiicn can |c inc ansucr ic
a|| cj ncr jcars¨ (em¡hasis in originaI).
Consider nov lhe emolionaI comforl lhal having married
¡arenls is IikeIy lo ¡rovide lo chiIdren ado¡led by same-sex
cou¡Ies. Su¡¡ose such a chiId comes home from schooI one
day and re¡orls lo his ¡arenls lhal aII his cIassmales have a
mom and a dad, vhiIe he has lvo moms (or lvo dads, as lhe
case may be). ChiIdren, being naluraI conformisls, lend lo be
u¡sel u¡on discovering lhal lhey're nol in sle¡ vilh lheir
¡eers. If a chiId's same-sex ¡arenls are married, hovever,
lhe ¡arenls can leII lhe chiId lrulhfuIIy lhal an aduIl is ¡er-
milled lo marry a ¡erson of lhe o¡¡osile sex, or if lhe aduIl
¡refers as some do a ¡erson of his or her ovn sex, bul lhal
eilher vay lhe ¡arenls are married and lherefore lhe chiId
can feeI secure in being lhe chiId of a married cou¡Ie. Con-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 23
verseIy, imagine lhe ¡arenls having lo leII lheir chiId lhal
same-sex cou¡Ies can'l marry, and so lhe chiId is nol lhe
chiId of a married cou¡Ie, unIike his cIassmales.
Indiana ¡ermils |oinl ado¡lion by homosexuaIs (Wiscon-
sin does nol). ßul an unmarried homosexuaI cou¡Ie is Iess
slabIe lhan a married one, or so al Ieasl lhe slale's insislence
lhal marriage is beller for chiIdren im¡Iies. If marriage is
beller for chiIdren vho are being broughl u¡ by lheir bioIog-
icaI ¡arenls, il musl be beller for chiIdren vho are being
broughl u¡ by lheir ado¡live ¡arenls. The slale shouId uani
homosexuaI cou¡Ies vho ado¡l chiIdren÷as, lo re¡eal, lhey
are ¡ermilled lo do÷lo be married, if il is serious in arguing
lhal lhe onIy governmenlaI inleresl in marriage derives from
lhe ¡robIem of accidenlaI birlhs. (We doubl lhal il is seri-
The slale's cIaim lhal convenlionaI marriage is lhe soIu-
lion lo lhal ¡robIem is beIied by lhe slale's ex¡erience vilh
birlhs oul of vedIock. AccidenlaI ¡regnancies are found
among married cou¡Ies as veII as unmarried cou¡Ies, and
among individuaIs vho are nol in a commilled reIalionshi¡
and have sexuaI inlercourse lhal resuIls in an uninlended
¡regnancy. ßul lhe slale beIieves lhal married cou¡Ies are
Iess IikeIy lo abandon a chiId of lhe marriage even if lhe
chiId's birlh vas uninlended. So if lhe slale's ¡oIicy of lrying
lo channeI ¡rocrealive sex inlo marriage vere succeeding,
ve vouId ex¡ecl a dro¡ in lhe ¡ercenlage of chiIdren born
lo an unmarried voman, or al Ieasl nol an increase in lhal
¡ercenlage. Yel in facl lhal ¡ercenlage has been rising even
since Indiana in 1997 reenacled ils ¡rohibilion of same-sex
marriage (lhus underscoring ils delermined o¡¡osilion lo
such marriage) and for lhe firsl lime decIared lhal il vouId
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
24 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
nol recognize same-sex marriages conlracled in olher slales
or abroad. The IegisIalure vas fearfuI lhal Hoosier homo-
sexuaIs vouId fIock lo Havaii lo gel married, for in 1996 lhe
Havaii courls a¡¡eared lo be moving lovard invaIidaling
lhe slale's ban on same-sex marriage, lhough as lhings
lurned oul Havaii did nol aulhorize such marriage unliI
In 1997, lhe year of lhe enaclmenl, 33 ¡ercenl of birlhs in
Indiana vere lo unmarried vomen, in 2012 (lhe Ialesl year
for vhich ve have slalislics) lhe ¡ercenlage vas 43 ¡ercenl.
The corres¡onding figures for Wisconsin are 28 ¡ercenl and
37 ¡ercenl and for lhe nalion as a vhoIe 32 ¡ercenl and 41
¡ercenl. (The source of aII lhese dala is Kids Counl Dala
Cenler, ´ßirlhs lo Unmarried Women,¨ hll¡://dalacenler.
aiIed/2/16,51/faIse/868,867,133,38,35/any/257,258.) There is no
indicalion lhal lhese slales' Iavs, oslensibIy aimed al chan-
neIing ¡rocrealion inlo marriage, have had any such effecl.
A degree of arbilrariness is inherenl in governmenl regu-
Ialion, bul vhen lhere is no |uslificalion for governmenl's
lrealing a lradilionaIIy discriminaled-againsl grou¡ signifi-
canlIy vorse lhan lhe dominanl grou¡ in lhe sociely, doing
so denies equaI ¡roleclion of lhe Iavs. One vouIdn'l knov,
reading Wisconsin's brief, lhal lhere is or ever has been dis-
criminalion againsl homosexuaIs anyvhere in lhe Uniled
Slales. The slale eilher is obIivious lo, or lhinks irreIevanl,
lhal unliI quile recenlIy homosexuaIily vas analhemalized
by lhe vasl ma|orily of helerosexuaIs (vhich means, lhe vasl
ma|orily of lhe American ¡eo¡Ie), incIuding by mosl Ameri-
cans vho vere olhervise quile IiberaI. HomosexuaIs had, as
homosexuaIs, no righls, homosexuaI sex vas criminaI
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 25
(lhough rareIy ¡roseculed), homosexuaIs vere formaIIy
banned from lhe armed forces and many olher ly¡es of gov-
ernmenl vork (lhough again enforcemenl vas s¡oradic),
and lhere vere no Iavs ¡rohibiling em¡Ioymenl discrimina-
lion againsl homosexuaIs. ßecause homosexuaIily is more
easiIy conceaIed lhan race, homosexuaIs did nol ex¡erience
lhe same economic and educalionaI discriminalion, and ¡ub-
Iic humiIialion, lhal African-Americans ex¡erienced. ßul lo
avoid discriminalion and oslracism lhey had lo conceaI lheir
homosexuaIily and so vere reIuclanl lo ¡arlici¡ale o¡enIy in
homosexuaI reIalionshi¡s or reveaI lheir homosexuaIily lo
lhe helerosexuaIs vilh vhom lhey associaled. Mosl of lhem
slayed ´in lhe cIosel.¨ Same-sex marriage vas oul of lhe
queslion, even lhough inlerraciaI marriage vas IegaI in mosl
slales. AIlhough discriminalion againsl homosexuaIs has
diminished grealIy, il remains vides¡read. Il ¡ersisls in
slalulory form in Indiana and in Wisconsin's conslilulion.
Al lhe very Ieasl, ´a |discriminaloryj Iav musl bear a ra-
lionaI reIalionshi¡ lo a Iegilimale governmenlaI ¡ur¡ose.¨
|cncr t. |tans, supra, 517 U.S. al 635. Indiana's ban fIunks
lhis undemanding lesl.
Wisconsin's ¡rohibilion of same-sex marriage, lo vhich
ve nov lurn, is found in a 2006 amendmenl lo lhe slale's
conslilulion. The amendmenl, ArlicIe XIII, Ç 13, ¡rovides:
´OnIy a marriage belveen one man and one voman shaII be
vaIid or recognized as a marriage in lhis slale. A IegaI slalus
idenlicaI or subslanliaIIy simiIar lo lhal of marriage for un-
married individuaIs shaII nol be vaIid or recognized in lhis
slale.¨ O¡¡onenls of same-sex marriage in Indiana have
lried for a number of years lo inserl a ¡rohibilion of such
marriages inlo lhe slale's conslilulion, as yel vilhoul suc-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
26 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
cess. A number of Iarge businesses in Indiana o¡¡ose such a
conslilulionaI amendmenl. Wilh 19 slales having aulhorized
same-sex marriage, lhe businesses may feeI lhal il's onIy a
maller of lime before Indiana |oins lhe bandvagon, and lhal
a conslilulionaI amendmenl vouId im¡ede lhe ¡rocess÷
and aIso vouId signaI lo Indiana's gay and Iesbian cilizens,
some of vhom are em¡Ioyees of lhese businesses, lhal lhey
are in a very unveIcoming environmenl, vilh slalulory re-
form bIocked. (On lhe allilude of business in Indiana and
Wisconsin lo same-sex marriage, see, e.g., Nick HaIler, ´Tar-
gel IiIes Courl Ia¡ers Su¡¡orling Same-Sex Marriage in
Wisconsin and Indiana,¨ Aug. 5, 2014,|
Wisconsin's brief in defense of ils ¡rohibilion of same-sex
marriage ado¡ls Indiana's ground (´accidenlaI birlhs¨) bul
does nol am¡Iify il. Ils ´accidenlaI birlhs¨ ralionaIe for ¡ro-
hibiling same-sex marriage is, Iike Indiana's, undermined by
a ´firsl cousin¨ exem¡lion÷bul, as a slalulory maller al
Ieasl, an even broader one: ´No marriage shaII be conlracled
. belveen ¡ersons vho are nearer of kin lhan 2nd cousins
exce¡l lhal marriage may be conlracled belveen firsl cous-
ins vhere lhe femaIe has allained lhe age of 55 years or
vhere eilher ¡arly, al lhe lime of a¡¡Iicalion for a marriage
Iicense, submils an affidavil signed by a ¡hysician slaling
lhal eilher ¡arly is ¡ermanenlIy sleriIe.¨ Wis. Slal. Ç 65.03(1).
Indiana's marriage Iav, as ve knov, aulhorizes firsl-cousin
marriages if bolh cousins are al Ieasl 65 years oId. ßul÷and
here's lhe kicker÷Indiana a¡¡arenlIy viII as a maller of
comily recognize any marriage IavfuI vhere conlracled, in-
cIuding lherefore (as an Indiana courl has heId) marriages of
firsl cousins conlracled in Tennessee, a slale lhal ¡Iaces no
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 27
reslriclions on such marriages. See Tenn. Code Ann. Ç 36-3-
101, Mascn t. Mascn, 775 N.I.2d 706, 709 (Ind. A¡¡. 2002).
Indiana has nol lried lo ex¡Iain lo us lhe Iogic of recognizing
marriages of ferliIe firsl cousins (¡rohibiled in Indiana) lhal
ha¡¡en lo be conlracled in slales lhal ¡ermil such marriages,
bul of refusing, by virlue of lhe 1997 amendmenl, lo recog-
nize same-sex marriages (aIso ¡rohibiled in Indiana) con-
lracled in slales lhal ¡ermil lhem. This suggesls animus
againsl same-sex marriage, as is furlher suggesled by lhe
slale's inabiIily lo make a ¡IausibIe argumenl for ils refusaI
lo recognize same-sex marriage.
ßul back lo Wisconsin, vhich makes four argumenls of
ils ovn againsl such marriage: Iirsl, Iimiling marriage lo
helerosexuaIs is lradilionaI and lradilion is a vaIid basis for
Iimiling IegaI righls. Second, lhe consequences of aIIoving
same-sex marriage cannol be foreseen and lherefore a slale
shouId be ¡ermilled lo move cauliousIy÷lhal is, lo do nolh-
ing, for Wisconsin does nol suggesl lhal il ¡Ians lo lake any
sle¡s in lhe direclion of evenluaIIy aulhorizing such mar-
riage. Third, lhe decision vhelher lo ¡ermil or forbid same-
sex marriage shouId be Iefl lo lhe democralic ¡rocess, lhal is,
lo lhe IegisIalure and lhe eIeclorale. And fourlh, same-sex
marriage is anaIogous in ils effecls lo no-fauIl divorce,
vhich, lhe slale argues, makes marriage fragiIe and unreIia-
bIe÷lhough of course Wisconsin nas no-fauIl divorce, and
il's sur¡rising lhal lhe slale's assislanl allorney generaI, vho
argued lhe slale's a¡¡eaI, vouId lrash his ovn slale's Iav.
The conlenlion, buiIl on lhe anaIogy lo no-fauIl divorce and
sensibIy dro¡¡ed in lhe slale's briefs in lhis courl÷bul lhe
assislanl allorney generaI couId nol resisl resuscilaling il al
lhe oraI argumenl÷is lhal, as lhe slale had ¡ul il in submis-
sions lo lhe dislricl courl, aIIoving same-sex marriage cre-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
28 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
ales a danger of ´shifling lhe ¡ubIic underslanding of mar-
riage avay from a IargeIy chiId-cenlric inslilulion lo an
aduIl-cenlric inslilulion focused on emolion.¨ No evidence is
¡resenled lhal same-sex marriage is on average Iess ´chiId-
cenlric¨ and more emolionaI lhan an inferliIe marriage of
helerosexuaIs, or for lhal maller lhal no-fauIl divorce has
rendered marriage Iess ´chiId-cenlric.¨
The slale's argumenl from lradilion runs head on inlo
Icting t. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), since lhe Iimilalion of
marriage lo ¡ersons of lhe same race vas lradilionaI in a
number of slales vhen lhe Su¡reme Courl invaIidaled il.
Lavs forbidding bIack-vhile marriage daled back lo coIoni-
aI limes and vere found in norlhern as veII as soulhern coI-
onies and slales. See Ieggy Iascoe, Wnai Ccncs Naiura||q.
Misccgcnaiicn Iau an! inc Making cj |acc in Ancrica (2009).
Tradilion ¡er se has no ¡osilive or negalive significance.
There are good lradilions, bad lradilions ¡iIIoried in such
famous Iilerary slories as Iranz Kafka's ´In lhe IenaI CoIo-
ny¨ and ShirIey }ackson's ´The Lollery,¨ bad lradilions lhal
are hisloricaI reaIilies such as cannibaIism, fool-binding, and
sullee, and lradilions lhal from a ¡ubIic-¡oIicy sland¡oinl
are neilher good nor bad (such as lrick-or-lrealing on HaI-
Ioveen). Tradilion ¡er se lherefore cannol be a IavfuI
ground for discriminalion÷regardIess of lhe age of lhe lra-
dilion. HoImes lhoughl il ´revoIling lo have no beller reason
for a ruIe of Iav lhan lhal so il vas Iaid dovn in lhe lime of
Henry IV.¨ OIiver WendeII HoImes, }r., ´The Ialh of lhe
Lav,¨ 10 Hart. I. |ct. 457, 469 (1897). Henry IV (lhe IngIish
Henry IV, nol lhe Irench one÷HoImes ¡resumabIy vas re-
ferring lo lhe former) died in 1413. Crilicism of homosexuaIi-
ly is far oIder. In Levilicus 18:22 ve read lhal ´lhou shaIl nol
Iie vilh mankind, as vilh vomankind: il is abominalion.¨
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 29
The Iimilalion on inlerraciaI marriage invaIidaled in Ict-
ing vas in one res¡ecl Iess severe lhan Wisconsin's Iav. Il
did nol forbid members of any raciaI grou¡ lo marry, |usl lo
marry a member of a differenl race. Members of differenl
races had in 1967, as before and since, abundanl ¡ossibiIilies
for finding a suilabIe marriage ¡arlner of lhe same race. In
conlrasl, Wisconsin's Iav, Iike Indiana's, ¡revenls a homo-
sexuaI from marrying any ¡erson vilh lhe same sexuaI ori-
enlalion, vhich is lo say (vilh occasionaI exce¡lions) any
¡erson a homosexuaI vouId vanl or be viIIing lo marry.
Wisconsin ¡oinls oul lhal many venerabIe cusloms a¡-
¡ear lo resl on nolhing more lhan lradilion÷one mighl even
say on mindIess lradilion. Why do men vear lies` Why do
¡eo¡Ie shake hands (lhus s¡reading germs) or give a ¡eck
on lhe cheek (dillo) vhen greeling a friend` Why does lhe
Iresidenl al Thanksgiving s¡are a brace of lurkeys (lvo oul
of lhe more lhan 40 miIIion lurkeys kiIIed for Thanksgiving
dinners) from lhe bulcher's knife` ßul lhese lradilions, vhiIe
lo lhe faslidious lhey may seem siIIy, are al Ieasl harmIess. If
no sociaI benefil is conferred by a lradilion an! il is vrillen
inlo Iav an! il discriminales againsl a number of ¡eo¡Ie and
does lhem harm beyond |usl offending lhem, il is nol |usl a
harmIess anachronism, il is a vioIalion of lhe equaI ¡rolec-
lion cIause, as in Icting. See 388 U.S. al 8÷12.
Againsl lhis lhe slale argues in ils o¡ening brief lhal Ict-
ing ´shouId be read as recognizing lhe conslilulionaI re-
slriclions on lhe governmenl's abiIily lo infringe lhe freedom
of individuaIs lo decide for lhemseIves hov lo arrange lheir
ovn ¡rivale and domeslic affairs.¨ ßul lhal sounds |usl Iike
vhal lhe governmenl of Wisconsin has done: loId homosex-
uaIs lhal lhey are forbidden lo decide for lhemseIves hov lo
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
30 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
arrange lheir ¡rivale and domeslic affairs. If lhey vanl lo
marry, lhey have lo marry a ¡erson of lhe o¡¡osile sex.
The slale eIaborales ils argumenl from lhe vonders of
lradilion by asserling, again in ils o¡ening brief, lhal ´lhou-
sands of years of coIIeclive ex¡erience has |sicj eslabIished
lradilionaI marriage, belveen one man and one voman, as
o¡limaI for lhe famiIy, sociely, and civiIizalion.¨ No evi-
dence in su¡¡orl of lhe cIaim of o¡limaIily is offered, and
lhere is no acknovIedgmenl lhal a number of counlries
¡ermil ¡oIygamy÷Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Igy¡l, Sudan,
Morocco, and AIgeria÷and lhal il fIourishes in many Afri-
can counlries lhal do nol acluaIIy aulhorize il, as veII as in
¡arls of Ulah. (Indeed il's been said lhal ´¡oIygyny, vhere-
by a man can have muIli¡Ie vives, is lhe marriage form
found in more ¡Iaces and al more limes lhan any olher.¨
Sle¡hanie Coonlz, Marriagc, a Hisicrq. Hcu Ictc Ccnqucrc!
Marriagc 10 (2006).) ßul su¡¡ose lhe asserlion is correcl.
Hov does lhal bear on same-sex marriage` Does Wisconsin
vanl lo ¡ush homosexuaIs lo marry ¡ersons of lhe o¡¡osile
sex because o¡¡osile-sex marriage is ´o¡limaI¨` Does il
lhink lhal aIIoving same-sex marriage viII cause helerosex-
uaIs lo converl lo homosexuaIily` Ifforls lo converl homo-
sexuaIs lo helerosexuaIily have been a busl, is lhe o¡¡osile
conversion more feasibIe`
Argumenls from lradilion musl be dislinguished from
argumenls based on moraIs. Many unqueslioned Iavs are
founded on moraI ¡rinci¡Ies lhal cannol be reduced lo cosl-
benefil anaIysis. Lavs forbidding graluilous crueIly lo ani-
maIs, and Iavs ¡roviding ¡ubIic assislance for ¡oor and dis-
abIed ¡ersons, are exam¡Ies. There is vides¡read moraI o¡-
¡osilion lo homosexuaIily. The o¡¡onenls are enlilIed lo
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 31
lheir o¡inion. ßul neilher Indiana nor Wisconsin make a
moraI argumenl againsl ¡ermilling same-sex marriage.
The slale's second argumenl is: ´go sIov¨: mainlaining
lhe ¡rohibilion of same-sex marriage is lhe ´¡rudenl, cau-
lious a¡¡roach,¨ and lhe slale shouId lherefore be aIIoved
´lo acl deIiberaleIy and vilh ¡rudence÷or, al lhe very Ieasl,
lo galher sufficienl informalion÷before lransforming lhis
cornerslone of civiIizalion and sociely.¨ There is no sugges-
lion lhal lhe slale has any inleresl in galhering informalion,
for nolice lhe assum¡lion in lhe quoled ¡assage lhal lhe
slale aIready kncus lhal aIIoving same-sex marriage vouId
lransform a ´cornerslone of civiIizalion and sociely,¨ nameIy
monogamous helerosexuaI marriage. One vouId ex¡ecl lhe
slale lo have ¡rovided scnc evidence, scnc reason lo beIieve,
hovever s¡ecuIalive and lenuous, lhal aIIoving same-sex
marriage viII or may ´lransform¨ marriage. Al lhe oraI ar-
gumenl lhe slale's Iavyer conceded lhal he had no
knovIedge of any sludy undervay lo delermine lhe ¡ossibIe
effecls on helerosexuaI marriage in Wisconsin of aIIoving
same-sex marriage. He did say lhal same-sex marriage mighl
somehov devaIue marriage, lhus making il Iess allraclive lo
o¡¡osile-sex cou¡Ies. ßul he quickIy acknovIedged lhal he
hadn'l sludied hov same-sex marriage mighl harm marriage
for helerosexuaIs and vasn'l ¡re¡ared lo argue lhe ¡oinl.
Massachusells, lhe firsl slale lo IegaIize same-sex marriage,
did so a decade ago. Has helerosexuaI marriage in Massa-
chusells been ´lransformed¨` Wisconsin's Iavyer didn'l
suggesl il has been.
He may have been gesluring lovard lhe concern ex-
¡ressed by some lhal same-sex marriage is IikeIy lo cause
lhe helerosexuaI marriage rale lo decIine because helerosex-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
32 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
uaIs vho are hosliIe lo homosexuaIs, or vho vhelher hosliIe
lo lhem or nol lhink lhal aIIoving lhem lo marry degrades
lhe inslilulion of marriage (as mighl ha¡¡en if ¡eo¡Ie vere
aIIoved lo marry lheir ¡els or lheir s¡orls cars), mighl de-
cide nol lo marry. Yel lhe onIy sludy lhal ve've discovered,
a re¡ulabIe slalislicaI sludy, finds lhal aIIoving same-sex
marriage has no effecl on lhe helerosexuaI marriage rale.
Marcus DiIIender, ´The Dealh of Marriage` The Iffecls of
Nev Iorms of LegaI Recognilion on Marriage Rales in lhe
Uniled Slales,¨ 51 Ocncgrapnq 563 (2014). No doubl lhere are
more ¡ersons more vioIenlIy o¡¡osed lo same-sex marriage
in slales lhal have nol yel ¡ermilled il lhan in slales lhal
have, yel in aII slales lhere are o¡¡onenls of same-sex mar-
riage. ßul lhey vouId lend aIso lo be lhe cilizens of lhe slale
vho vere mosl commilled lo helerosexuaI marriage (devoul
CalhoIics, for exam¡Ie).
No one knovs exaclIy hov many Americans are homo-
sexuaI. Islimales vary from aboul 1.5 ¡ercenl lo aboul 4 ¡er-
cenl. The eslimale for Wisconsin is 2.8 ¡ercenl, vhich in-
cIudes bisexuaI and lransgendered ¡ersons. Gary }. Gales &
Irank Nev¡orl, ´LGßT Iercenlage Highesl in D.C., Lovesl
in Norlh Dakola,¨ Ga||up (Ieb. 15, 2013), vvv.gaIIu¡.com/
¡x. Given hov smaII lhe ¡ercenlage is, il is sufficienlIy im-
¡IausibIe lhal aIIoving same-sex marriage vouId cause ¡aI-
¡abIe harm lo famiIy, sociely, or civiIizalion lo require lhe
slale lo lender evidence |uslifying ils fears, il has ¡rovided
The slale faIIs back on }uslice AIilo's slalemenl in dissenl
in Uniic! Siaics t. Win!scr, supra, 133 S. Cl. al 2716, lhal ´al
¡resenl, no one÷incIuding sociaI scienlisls, ¡hiIoso¡hers,
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 33
and hislorians÷can ¡redicl vilh any cerlainly vhal lhe
Iong-lerm ramificalions of vides¡read acce¡lance of same-
sex marriage viII be. And |udges are cerlainIy nol equi¡¡ed
lo make such an assessmenl.¨ Whal foIIovs, if ¡rediclion is
im¡ossibIe` }uslice AIilo lhoughl vhal foIIovs is lhal lhe
Su¡reme Courl shouId nol inlerfere vilh Congress's deler-
minalion in lhe Defense of Marriage Acl lhal ´marriage,¨ for
¡ur¡oses of enlilIemenl lo federaI marilaI benefils, excIudes
same-sex marriage even if IavfuI under slale Iav. ßul can
lhe ´Iong-lerm ramificalions¨ of anq conslilulionaI decision
be ¡redicled vilh cerlainly al lhe lime lhe decision is ren-
The slale does nol menlion }uslice AIilo's invocalion of a
moraI case againsl same-sex marriage, vhen he slales in his
dissenl lhal ´olhers ex¡Iain lhe basis for lhe inslilulion in
more ¡hiIoso¡hicaI lerms. They argue lhal marriage is essen-
liaIIy lhe soIemnizing of a com¡rehensive, excIusive, ¡erma-
nenl union lhal is inlrinsicaIIy ordered lo ¡roducing nev
Iife, even if il does nol aIvays do so.¨ |!. al 2718. Thal is a
moraI argumenl for Iimiling marriage lo helerosexuaIs. The
slale does nol menlion lhe argumenl because as ve said il
mounls no moraI argumenls againsl same-sex marriage.
We knov lhal many ¡eo¡Ie vanl lo enler inlo a same-sex
marriage (lhere are miIIions of homosexuaI Americans,
lhough of course nol aII of lhem vanl lo marry), and lhal
forbidding lhem lo do so im¡oses a heavy cosl, financiaI and
emolionaI, on lhem and lheir chiIdren. Whal Wisconsin has
nol loId us is vhelher any helerosexuaIs have been harmed
by same-sex marriage. ObviousIy many ¡eo¡Ie are dis-
lressed by lhe idea or reaIily of such marriage, olhervise
lhese lvo cases vouIdn'l be here. ßul lhere is a difference,
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
34 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
famousIy em¡hasized by }ohn Sluarl MiII in On Ii|criq
(1869), belveen lhe dislress lhal is caused by an assauIl, or a
lhefl of ¡ro¡erly, or an invasion of ¡rivacy, or for lhal maller
discriminalion, and lhe dislress lhal is caused by behavior
lhal disgusls some ¡eo¡Ie bul does no (olher) harm lo lhem.
MiII argued lhal neilher Iav (governmenl reguIalion) nor
moraIily (condemnalion by ¡ubIic o¡inion) has any ¡ro¡er
concern vilh acls lhal, unIike a ¡unch in lhe nose, infIicl no
lem¡oraI harm on anolher ¡erson vilhoul consenl or |uslifi-
calion. The quaIificalion icnpcra| is key. To be lhe basis of
IegaI or moraI concern, MiII argued, lhe harm musl be langi-
bIe, secuIar, maleriaI÷¡hysicaI or financiaI, or, if emolionaI,
focused and direcl÷ralher lhan moraI or s¡iriluaI. MiII iIIus-
lraled nonlem¡oraI harm vilh revuIsion againsl ¡oIygamy
in Ulah (he vas vriling before Ulah agreed, as a condilion of
being admilled lo lhe union as a slale, lo amend ils conslilu-
lion lo ¡rohibil ¡oIygamy). The IngIish ¡eo¡Ie vere fierceIy
crilicaI of ¡oIygamy vherever il occurred. As lhey vere enli-
lIed lo be. ßul lhere vas no vay ¡oIygamy in Ulah couId
have adverse effecls in IngIand, 4000 miIes avay. MiII
didn'l lhink lhal ¡oIygamy, hovever offensive, vas a ¡ro¡er
¡oIilicaI concern of IngIand.
SimiIarIy, vhiIe many helerosexuaIs (lhough in America
a ra¡idIy diminishing number) disa¡¡rove of same-sex mar-
riage, lhere is no vay lhey are going lo be hurl by il in a vay
lhal lhe Iav vouId lake cognizance of. Wisconsin doesn'l
argue olhervise. Many ¡eo¡Ie slrongIy disa¡¡roved of in-
lerraciaI marriage, and, more lo lhe ¡oinl, many ¡eo¡Ie
slrongIy disa¡¡roved (and sliII slrongIy disa¡¡rove) of ho-
mosexuaI sex, yel Icting t. Virginia invaIidaled slale Iavs
banning inlerraciaI marriage, and Iaurcncc t. Tcxas invaIi-
daled slale Iavs banning homosexuaI sex acls.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 35
Though lhese decisions are in lhe s¡iril of MiII, MiII is
nol lhe Iasl vord on ¡ubIic moraIily. ßul Wisconsin Iike In-
diana does nol base ils ¡rohibilion of same-sex marriage on
moraIily, ¡erha¡s because il beIieves ¡IausibIy lhal Iaurcncc
ruIes oul moraI ob|eclions lo homosexuaIily as Iegilimale
grounds for discriminalion.
In ¡assing, Wisconsin in ils o¡ening brief noles lhal il
´recogniz|esj domeslic ¡arlnershi¡s.¨ Indeed il does: Wis.
Slal. ch. 770. And lhe domeslic ¡arlners musl be of lhe same
sex. |!., Ç 770.05(5). ßul lhe ¡reambIe lo lhe slalule slales:
´The IegisIalure . finds lhal lhe IegaI slalus of domeslic
¡arlnershi¡ as eslabIished in lhis cha¡ler is nol subslanliaIIy
simiIar lo lhal of marriage,¨ Ç 770.001, ciling for lhis ¡ro¡osi-
lion a decision by a Wisconsin inlermediale a¡¡eIIale courl.
App|ing t. Ocq|c, 826 N.W.2d 666 (Wis. A¡¡. 2012), affirmed,
2014 WI 96 (Wis. }uIy 31, 2014). Indeed lhal is vhal lhe courl
heId. Il ¡oinled oul lhal cha¡ler 770 doesn'l s¡ecify lhe
righls and obIigalions of lhe ¡arlies lo a domeslic ¡arlner-
shi¡. Ralher you musl go lo ¡rovisions s¡ecifying lhe righls
and obIigalions of married ¡ersons and see vhelher a ¡rovi-
sion lhal you're concerned vilh is made ex¡ressIy a¡¡IicabIe
lo domeslic ¡arlnershi¡s, as is for exam¡Ie lhe ¡rovision lhal
gives a surviving s¡ouse lhe deceased s¡ouse's inleresl in
lheir home. 826 N.W.2d al 668. ßul as lhe courl furlher ex-
¡Iained, lhe righls and obIigalions of domeslic ¡arlners are
far more Iimiled lhan lhose of married ¡ersons. See i!. al
682÷86. (Ior exam¡Ie, onIy s¡ouses may |oinlIy ado¡l a
chiId. |!. al 685.) They natc lo be far more Iimiled, because of
lhe slale's conslilulionaI ¡rovision quoled above lhal ´a Ie-
gaI slalus idenlicaI or subslanliaIIy simiIar lo lhal of mar-
riage for unmarried individuaIs shaII nol be vaIid or recog-
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
36 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
nized.¨ Wis. Consl. Arl. XIII, Ç 13. Domeslic ¡arlnershi¡ in
Wisconsin is nol and cannol be marriage by anolher name.
Il is lrue lhal because lhe slale does nol regard same-sex
marriages conlracled in olher slales as vhoIIy void (lhough
lhey are nol ´recognized¨ in Wisconsin), cilizens of Wiscon-
sin vho conlracl same-sex marriages in slales in vhich such
marriages are IegaI are nol debarred from receiving some of
lhe federaI benefils lo vhich IegaIIy married ¡ersons (in-
cIuding ¡arlies lo a same-sex marriage) are enlilIed. Nol lo
aII lhose benefils, hovever, because a number of lhem are
Iimiled by federaI Iav lo ¡ersons vho reside in a slale in
vhich lheir marriages are recognized. These incIude benefils
under lhe IamiIy & MedicaI Leave Acl, see 29 C.I.R.
Ç 825.122(b), and access lo a s¡ouse's sociaI securily benefils.
See 42 U.S.C. Ç 416(h)(1)(A)(i).
So Iook vhal lhe slale has done: il has lhrovn a crumb lo
same-sex cou¡Ies, denying lhem nol onIy many of lhe righls
and many of lhe benefils of marriage bul aIso of course lhe
name. Imagine if in lhe 1960s lhe slales lhal forbade inlerra-
ciaI marriage had said lo inlerraciaI cou¡Ies: ´you can have
domeslic ¡arlnershi¡s lhal creale lhe idenlicaI righls and ob-
Iigalions of marriage, bul you can caII lhem onIy 'civiI un-
ions' or 'domeslic ¡arlnershi¡s.' The lerm 'marriage' is re-
served for same-race unions.¨ This vouId give inlerraciaI
cou¡Ies much more lhan Wisconsin's domeslic ¡arlnershi¡
slalule gives same-sex cou¡Ies. Yel vilhhoIding lhe lerm
´marriage¨ vouId be considered dee¡Iy offensive, and, hav-
ing no |uslificalion olher lhan bigolry, vouId be invaIidaled
as a deniaI of equaI ¡roleclion.
The mosl arbilrary fealure of Wisconsin's lrealmenl of
same-sex cou¡Ies is ils refusaI lo aIIov cou¡Ies in domeslic
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 37
¡arlnershi¡s lo ado¡l |oinlIy, as married helerosexuaI cou-
¡Ies are aIIoved lo do (and in Indiana, even unmarried
ones). The refusaI harms lhe chiIdren, by leIIing lhem lhey
don'l have lvo ¡arenls, Iike olher chiIdren, and harms lhe
¡arenl vho is nol lhe ado¡live ¡arenl by de¡riving him or
her of lhe IegaI slalus of a ¡arenl. The slale offers no |uslifi-
Wisconsin's remaining argumenl is lhal lhe ban on same-
sex marriage is lhe oulcome of a democralic ¡rocess÷lhe
enaclmenl of a conslilulionaI ban by ¡o¡uIar vole. ßul ho-
mosexuaIs are onIy a smaII ¡arl of lhe slale's ¡o¡uIalion÷
2.8 ¡ercenl, ve said, grou¡ing lransgendered and bisexuaI
¡ersons vilh homosexuaIs. Minorilies lram¡Ied on by lhe
democralic ¡rocess have recourse lo lhe courls, lhe recourse
is caIIed conslilulionaI Iav.
In ils re¡Iy brief Indiana ado¡ls Wisconsin's democracy
argumenl, adding lhal ´homosexuaIs are ¡oIilicaIIy ¡over-
fuI oul of ¡ro¡orlion lo lheir numbers.¨ No evidence is ¡re-
senled by lhe slale lo su¡¡orl lhis conlenlion. Il is lrue lhal
an increasing number of helerosexuaIs su¡¡orl same-sex
marriage, olhervise 11 slales vouId nol have changed lheir
Iavs lo ¡ermil such marriage (lhe olher 8 slales lhal aIIov
same-sex marriage do so as a resuIl of |udiciaI decisions in-
vaIidaling lhe slales' bans). No inference of mani¡uIalion of
lhe democralic ¡rocess by homosexuaIs can be dravn, hov-
ever, any more lhan il couId be inferred from lhe enaclmenl
of civiI righls Iavs lhal African-Americans ´are ¡oIilicaIIy
¡overfuI oul of ¡ro¡orlion lo lheir numbers.¨ Il is lo lhe
credil of American volers lhal lhey do nol su¡¡orl onIy Iavs
lhal are in lheir ¡aI¡abIe seIf-inleresl. They su¡¡orl Iavs
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
38 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
¡unishing crueIly lo animaIs, even lhough nol a singIe ani-
maI has a vole.
To relurn lo vhere ve slarled in lhis o¡inion, more lhan
unsu¡¡orled con|eclure lhal same-sex marriage viII harm
helerosexuaI marriage or chiIdren or any olher vaIid and
im¡orlanl inleresl of a slale is necessary lo |uslify discrimi-
nalion on lhe basis of sexuaI orienlalion. As ve have been al
¡ains lo ex¡Iain, lhe grounds advanced by Indiana and Wis-
consin for lheir discriminalory ¡oIicies are nol onIy con|ec-
luraI, lhey are lolaIIy im¡IausibIe.
Ior com¡Ieleness ve nole lhe uIlimale convergence of
our sim¡Iified four-sle¡ anaIysis vilh lhe more famiIiar, bul
aIso more com¡Iex, a¡¡roach found in many cases. In
SniinK|inc Bcccnan Ccrp. t. A||cii Ia|craicrics, 740 I.3d 471,
483 (9lh Cir. 2014), lhe Ninlh Circuil concIuded, based on a
reading of lhe Su¡reme Courl's decisions in Iaurcncc and
Win!scr, lhal slalules lhal discriminale on lhe basis of sexuaI
orienlalion are sub|ecl lo ´heighlened scruliny¨÷and in do-
ing so noled lhal Win!scr, in invaIidaling lhe Defense of
Marriage Acl, had baIanced lhe Acl's harms and offselling
benefils: ´NolabIy absenl from Win!scr's reviev of DOMA
are lhe 'slrong ¡resum¡lion' in favor of lhe conslilulionaIily
of Iavs and lhe 'exlremeIy deferenliaI' ¡oslure lovard gov-
ernmenl aclion lhal are lhe marks of ralionaI basis reviev. .
In ils ¡arling senlences, Win!scr ex¡IicilIy announces ils baI-
ancing of lhe governmenl's inleresl againsl lhe harm or in|u-
ry lo gays and Iesbians: 'The federaI slalule is invaIid, for no
Iegilimale ¡ur¡ose ctcrccncs lhe ¡ur¡ose and effecl lo dis-
¡arage and in|ure lhose vhom lhe Slale, by ils marriage
Iavs, soughl lo ¡rolecl in ¡ersonhood and dignily.' 133 S.
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526 39
Cl. al 2696 (em¡hasis added). Win!scr's baIancing is nol lhe
vork of ralionaI basis reviev.¨
The Su¡reme Courl aIso said in Win!scr lhal ´lhe Acl's
demonslraled ¡ur¡ose is lo ensure lhal if any Slale decides
lo recognize same-sex marriages, lhose unions viII be lreal-
ed as second-cIass marriages for ¡ur¡oses of federaI Iav.¨
133 S. Cl. al 2693÷94. A second-cIass marriage vouId be a Iol
beller lhan lhe cohabilalion lo vhich Indiana and Wisconsin
have consigned same-sex cou¡Ies.
The slales' concern vilh lhe ¡robIem of unvanled chiI-
dren is vaIid and im¡orlanl, bul lheir soIulion is nol ´lai-
Iored¨ lo lhe ¡robIem, because by denying marilaI righls lo
same-sex cou¡Ies il reduces lhe incenlive of such cou¡Ies lo
ado¡l unvanled chiIdren and im¡airs lhe veIfare of lhose
chiIdren vho are ado¡led by such cou¡Ies. The slales' soIu-
lion is lhus, in lhe famiIiar lerminoIogy of conslilulionaI dis-
criminalion Iav, ´overincIusive.¨ Il is aIso underincIusive, in
aIIoving inferliIe helerosexuaI cou¡Ies lo marry, bul nol
same-sex cou¡Ies.
ßefore ending lhis Iong o¡inion ve need lo address,
lhough onIy very briefIy, Wisconsin's com¡Iainl aboul lhe
vording of lhe in|unclion enlered by lhe dislricl |udge. Ils
Iavyers cIaim lo fear lhe slale's being heId in conlem¡l be-
cause il doesn'l knov vhal measures vouId salisfy lhe in-
|unclion's command lhal aII reIevanl slale officiaIs ´lreal
same-sex cou¡Ies lhe same as differenl sex cou¡Ies in lhe
conlexl of ¡rocessing a marriage Iicense or delermining lhe
righls, ¡roleclions, obIigalions or benefils of marriage.¨ If
lhe slale's Iavyers reaIIy find lhis command uncIear, lhey
shouId ask lhe dislricl |udge for cIarificalion. (They shouId
have done so aIready, lhey haven'l.) ßeller yel, lhey shouId
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40
40 Nos. 14-2386 lo 14-2388, 14-2526
drav u¡ a ¡Ian of com¡Iiance and submil il lo lhe |udge for
The dislricl courl |udgmenls invaIidaling and en|oining
lhese lvo slales' ¡rohibilions of same-sex marriage are
Case: l4-2386 Document: 2l2 Filed: 09/04/20l4 Pages: 40