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7 Moments That Will Make You Want To Gay Marry Judge Richard Posner: PHOTOS


Yesterday, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard two cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. There was a lot of speculation as to who would be on the three judge panel that would hear the case. Not long before the hearing began, we found out: Judges Ann Claire Williams, David Hamilton and Richard Posner. Williams and Hamilton were Clinton and Obama nominees respectively and were widely thought to be favorable to pro-equality arguments. Judge Posner, a Reagan nominee, was something of a wild-card. Though as our own Ari Ezra Waldman pointed out in his pre-hearing analysis, Judge Posner does not always “toe a socially conservative line,” having “been sympathetic to the pro-choice movement.” However, few could have imagined how incredible Judge Posner’s performance during the hearing would be. And while the 7th Circuit still has to deliver its decision, it is safe to say that Judge Posner has won his way into many a gay’s heart.

Check out Posner’s 7 best quips that defined yesterday’s hearing, AFTER THE JUMP…

Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson got off to a rocky start with Posner, trying to argue that Wisconsin should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples because tradition:


Then Samuelson tried to argue that the “tradition” of marriage discrimination is based on “experience."




Samuelson then got shot down when he tried to argue that Loving v. Virginia can’t be applied to the question of gay marriage without a lot of, you know, explanation why. Posner wasn’t having it.


Basically, none of the arguments were sticking.


Samuelson at one point pulled out the old 'if gays marry, the straights will stop marrying and the world will end' argument. 


To which Samuelson’s actual response was : “Your honour, I haven't anticipated this.” Um, really?

Posner then hits the nail on the head as to why these states are banning gay marriage.


Ding, ding, ding!

And thus a legend was born.

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  1. As I have said multiple times in multiple forums for multiple decades. Their only real argument is "gay sex is icky" which has no legal basis. Glad to see the U.S. legal system is finally catching up.

    Posted by: Javier | Aug 27, 2014 12:47:32 PM

  2. as this debate continues throughout the country, there's never been a better example of the need for strong separation of church and state.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 27, 2014 12:54:38 PM

  3. This is what happens when a true jurist who respects the Constitution adjudicates a case about civil equality. You get the opposing side torn to shreds in a buzzsaw of logic and reason.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Aug 27, 2014 12:57:54 PM

  4. I listened to all the oral arguments. Posner was so good. Sounded ditzy but persistent and in the end exposing paucity of argument.

    Better than HBO or PBS or... because funny legal guy

    Posted by: Paul Mc | Aug 27, 2014 12:59:58 PM

  5. If only Scalia and Thomas had such sharp minds.

    Posted by: Bubba | Aug 27, 2014 1:05:43 PM

  6. Not to nitpick but why the compelling need to write "gay marry" instead of just "marry" in the title? Isn't our whole argument that it's not inherently a different thing?

    I'm not "gay marrying" my fiance, I'm marrying him. :) Then we'll have passionate gay lovin afterward lol

    Posted by: Jamie | Aug 27, 2014 1:34:18 PM

  7. This title of this piece is pretty offensive. People don't 'gay marry" they marry. Does the author 'gay drive' his car?

    Language is important. If we don't want bigots using language like this, then we should certainly not be doing it ourselves.

    Posted by: Martin | Aug 27, 2014 1:35:22 PM

  8. He made my day yesterday. Where can I get a Judge Posner T-shirt?

    Posted by: Zlick | Aug 27, 2014 1:40:25 PM

  9. If the right really wants less gay sex, you'd think they'd be in favor of marriage equality. Little kills the sex drive like domesticity.

    In other news, I'm pretty sure Sean is using "gay marry" in the ha-ha sense, not the legal sense. It's become a bit of an idiom for showing affection to anything.

    Posted by: Christopher Williams | Aug 27, 2014 1:46:40 PM

  10. Posner's responses were delicious. Please take note, other judges.

    Posted by: Sergio | Aug 27, 2014 2:01:16 PM

  11. That hearing was the best entertainment I've had in weeks. My favorite exchange was when a Wisconsin lawyer said "Loving was a departure from the common law," prompting judge Hamilton to blurt out "What!" I'm sure the Wisconsin lawyer regretted that remark.

    Posted by: woody | Aug 27, 2014 2:02:39 PM

  12. I have been waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r for someone, anyone ... preferably IN the judiciary ... to question WHY would the event of two men or two women marrying each other have ANY effect on preventing a man and woman who want to marry each other from doing so. Yay!

    Posted by: Drummond | Aug 27, 2014 2:10:08 PM

  13. Though I'm not a fan of listicles a la Buzzfeed and Gawker, this is among one of the best posts I've seen on Towleroad in a long time! I hope this is a sign you guys are back to form. (Update commenting platforms, and moderate comments, and I'll definitely spend more time here!)

    Posted by: John | Aug 27, 2014 2:21:22 PM

  14. Wow. Goosebumps.

    Posted by: Robert | Aug 27, 2014 2:21:43 PM

  15. It did the heart good to see the BS being exposed for what it is. As for nitpicking over the title of this article, if you click the link for the author Sean Mandell, I suspect you'll immediately forgive him and want to "gay marry" him.

    Posted by: Stan D | Aug 27, 2014 2:22:02 PM

  16. I clicked on a link to the audio yesterday - and Judge Posner immediately stood out for his high, slightly quavery voice that sometimes faded out on his last words. Then, of course, the attitude! It was A-MAZ-ING.

    At one point he describes some of the obstacles to couples unable to marry and asks the advocate for the state to explain what benefits outweigh the harms. When the advocate didn't answer Posner's question but kept coming back to state policy, Posner begged the advocate to speculate about possible benefits. But when the advocate tried to pass off the idea that "responsible procreation" was a benefit, I could hear Judge Posner's eyes rolling and the dismissive wave of his hand. It was Fabulous. Love him.

    Posted by: Glenn I | Aug 27, 2014 2:26:28 PM

  17. You can't talk about Posner's highlights without mentioning the moment where he skewers Wisconsin's incest law, which forbids first cousins from marrying, EXCEPT if a doctor certifies them as sterile:

    Go to your doctor and say, "You know, I'd like to marry my first cousin. We're only 21, but we're sterile." So the doctor says, "Okay. Sign," and that's fine for you guys. I don't get it. What's the purpose of that? It's so funny. You don't like homosexual sex, and you don't like incest, except you're willing to tolerate incest. Nothing easier than getting a certificate from your doctor, right? Doctors like to please their patients. They come and say, "We're sterile," doctor signs a little slip, and they can get married. You have all these incestuous cousins running around Wisconsin. I don't get it. You don't worry about that. You don't worry about incest, but you're terribly worried about homosexual marriage—The Future.


    Of course, the incest exception completely belies Wisconsin's claim that the purpose of marriage is to channel accidental births into stable relationships, because the law explicitly *requires* certain couples to be sterile in order to marry.

    The exchange starts about 20 minutes into the Wolf v. Walker hearing (

    Posted by: JJ | Aug 27, 2014 2:31:51 PM

  18. Basically he shot a hole right through their "arguement" without even really trying. We've had The Gay Marriage in Canada for more than a decade and NONE of the slippery slopes that those opposed to marriage equality use have been realized. Men can't marry children, dogs, lamps or blenders. Polygamy has not been legalized. "Traditional" marriage is still alive and well. We haven't been destroyed by any god and our economy is doing quite well, all things considered. Allowing gay couples to marry will mean one thing: more couples marrying.

    Posted by: Gigi | Aug 27, 2014 2:32:34 PM

  19. Legit, listening to him yesterday was one of the funniest things I've ever heard. He needs a wonky talk show.

    Posted by: JonB | Aug 27, 2014 2:36:59 PM

  20. @ JJ :
    Thanks !
    I love your post .

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Aug 27, 2014 3:15:02 PM

  21. It's also great that he says that the bans are based purely on hatred. Usually judges try to find any other reasons. And even when they excluded all others, they usually refuse to spell it and go out of their way to say that the politicians and voters were motivated by something else.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 27, 2014 3:36:24 PM

  22. I don't know. I went to "gay lunch" yesterday, with some friends...

    And later today, I'm going to "gay drive" to the supermarket and "gay shop".


    Posted by: TonyC | Aug 27, 2014 4:01:01 PM

  23. He's a fascinating guy. I loved his recent end-of-the-term Supreme Court wrapups with Dahlia Lithwick at Slate.

    Posted by: Lucky | Aug 27, 2014 4:07:53 PM

  24. Reagan appointee Federal Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner did a great job here and performed in the insightful and intelligent way an appellate court judge is supposed to perform. He questioned the logic and the legal justification behind these bans. Also, he did it in a sharp and amusing manner. As I recall, both US Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, who ruled in favour of gay rights in several cases, were Reagan appointees, as well.

    Posted by: RonCharles | Aug 27, 2014 4:49:24 PM

  25. JJ - Thank you for that link! Unless I missed it in the article, it's surprising to me that the link you provided wasn't in the post itself. Weird omission.

    Posted by: dw | Aug 27, 2014 5:34:24 PM

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