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7th Circuit to hear gay marriage arguments Tuesday

Virginia Wolf, one of several named plaintiffs in Wolf v. Walker which challenges Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, walks with fellow plaintiffs to a bus during Wisconsin Unites for Marriage's Marriage Bus Tour stop at the South Central LGBT Community Center in Madison, Wis., Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. The bus continues on to Milwaukee, Racine and then Chicago Monday afternoon for a rally at Federal Plaza. On Tuesday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will hear arguments in challenges to Wisconsin and Indiana's same-sex marriage bans. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King)

Virginia Wolf, one of several named plaintiffs in Wolf v. Walker which challenges Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, walks with fellow plaintiffs Monday to a bus during Wisconsin Unites for Marriage’s bus tour stop at the South Central LGBT Community Center in Madison. On Tuesday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will hear arguments in challenges to Wisconsin and Indiana’s same-sex marriage bans. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King)

A federal appeals court is set to hear oral arguments on whether gay couples have the constitutional right to marry in Wisconsin.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday morning, has combined Wisconsin’s appeal with a similar one from Indiana.

Western District of Wisconsin Senior Judge Barbara Crabb struck the ban down in June but the state is appealing. The decision in the case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, prompted clerks of court from around the state to start issuing marriage license to same-sex couples, but Crabb stayed her decision a week later.

In her decision, Crabb noted that “… it appears that courts are moving toward a consensus that it is time to embrace full legal equality for gay and lesbian citizens. Perhaps it is no coincidence that these decisions are coming at a time when public opinion is moving quickly in the direction of support for same-sex marriage.”

After the ruling, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen vowed to appeal it, and his office pointed out that the ban on same-sex marriage was a constitutional amendment passed by state voters..

Tuesday’s arguments are expected to get widespread attention, as judges from across the country have struck down bans in other states.

According to court filings, several outside organizations such as the Cato Institute, the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and the Family Equality Council have filed amicus briefs.

“The approval of laws and constitutional amendments limiting marriage to one man and one woman in a total of forty-one states demonstrates the continuing influence of anti-gay hostility and the persistence of ideas about the inequality of gay people and their relationships,” according to a brief submitted by Historians of Antigay Discrimination. “No other group in American history has been confronted with as many referenda designed to take away its rights.”

Two of the eight couples who are suing for their right to marry — Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf, and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning — boarded a bus Monday morning after a send-off at the OutReach LGBT Center in Madison. About two dozen people showed up to see them off.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

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