Indiana is now right in the middle of the national same-sex marriage debate.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young ruled the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Given recent court rulings on similar cases in other states, that was not surprising.

The reaction was not surprising, either, based on what has happened in other states. In some communities, same-sex couples flocked to courthouses for marriage licenses and spur-of-the-moment weddings.

In Jefferson County, one same-sex couple has filed for a marriage license.

Meanwhile, the state moved swiftly to halt the new marriages. It asked for a stay of the judge's decision. Young is expected to rule on the state's request in about a week.

Given the legal tangle, officials sought guidance from the Indiana Attorney General's office. And that word came down late Wednesday. The AG instructed counties to comply with Young's order or face contempt of court.

As expected, there were strong reactions from people on both sides of the issue.

"These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such," Young wrote in his ruling.

"The reason things are changing is because we're out, and because people are getting to know us because we're out there and we have normal lives and normal families," Melody Layne, a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Indiana's ban, told The Associated Press. Layne married her partner, Tara Betterman, in New York, and they have a daughter.

On the other side are those who stand firm for a traditional view of marriage - one man and one woman, as the state has defined it.

"Regardless of what any judge say s, marriage is about uniting men and women together for the best interests of children and society," American Family Association of Indiana Executive Director Micah Clark said in a statement. "Men and women are uniquely and individually important. They are not interchangeable or discardable."

The road is obviously leading to where many believe it should: the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates. Many of those decisions are being appealed.

Americans have strong, and split, opinions about the morality or immorality of same-sex marriages. We do not expect any court ruling to change people's minds in that regard. But legal clarity will have to be provided by the nation's highest court.