John M. Becker

UPDATED: Judge Strikes Down WISCONSIN Marriage Ban

Filed By John M. Becker | June 06, 2014 4:55 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: ACLU, Dane County, gay marriage, Madison, marriage discrimimation, marriage equality, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, same-sex marriage, Wisconsin

wisconsin-gay-rainbow.jpgWisconsin's marriage discrimination amendment has just been struck down in federal court. The ruling, from U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, finds the state ban unconstitutional on multiple grounds.

J.B. Van Hollen, the state's far-right Republican attorney general, said that despite the ruling, the anti-equality amendment remains in force. He said in a statement, "While today's decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws," he wrote. "I will appeal."

According to the AP, Wisconsin is the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry or where a judge has ruled they should be allowed to.

The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples, broke the story on Twitter.

WISC-TV reports:

The ruling issued Friday states," I conclude that the Wisconsin laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples interfere with plaintiffs' right to marry, in violation of the due process clause, and discriminate against plaintiffs on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the equal protection clause."

The ruling goes on to say, "The state may not intrude without adequate justification on certain fundamental decisions made by individuals and that, when the state does impose restrictions on these important matters, it must do so in an even-handed manner."

The state was given until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction of the ruling.

The ACLU says that celebratory rallies will be held in several locations across the state, including Milwaukee, Madison, and Eau Claire. Click here for more information.

The group reacted via press release:

Two of the plaintiffs, Kami Young and Karina Willes of West Milwaukee, were legally married last year in Minnesota and have a newborn daughter. But because Young is the birth mother, she is the only one who is recognized as the legal parent on the birth certificate.

"Our daughter has two parents who love her dearly," said Willes. "I am no less a mother to her than Kami is, and she deserves the security of having both of her parents legally recognized. Our daughter shouldn't have second-class protections."

"We are tremendously happy that these loving and committed couples will now be able to access the security and recognition that only marriage provides," said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. "These discriminatory laws are falling around the country and it is only right that Wisconsin move forward as well."

It's also Pride weekend in Milwaukee -- pretty sure this will be the best Pride celebration the Badger State has ever had.

This Cheesehead's heart is bursting with joy.

UPDATE: The office of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele released a statement saying that the Milwaukee County Courthouse will remain open until 9 p.m. to allow couples to marry.

Via press release:

"I have been waiting decades for this day to finally arrive and we won't make loving couples wait longer than they want to to get married," County Executive Abele said.

County Executive Abele said he will personally pay for any overtime costs associated with keeping the Courthouse open.

Couples interested in getting married should use the entrance off of Wells Street, between 9th and 10th Streets.

UPDATE: Dane County too! Via WISC:

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell told News 3 the office will remain open until 9 p.m. and staff will be brought in from other counties to help Friday and Saturday. He said he plans to begin issuing licenses at 5 p.m.

UPDATE, 6:45 P.M. EDT: Marriage licenses are being issued to same-sex couples in Wisconsin RIGHT NOW.

Here's the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Milwaukee County.

— TODAYSTMJ4 (@tmj4) June 6, 2014

WISCONSIN READERS: if you're in a same-sex couple, you're ready to get married, and live in Milwaukee or Dane Counties, allow me to humbly suggest that you GET DOWN TO THE COURTHOUSE RIGHT NOW, apply for that license, and get married.

It's much harder to undo marriages that are legal at the time they were performed, so it is vitally important to have as many couples marry as quickly as possible. Furthermore, Van Hollen has requested a stay of Judge Crabb's ruling. If that stay is granted -- which could come at any time -- further marriages will be put on hold.

Dane County Courthouse: 215 S Hamilton St #1000, Madison, WI 53703
Milwaukee County Courthouse: 901 N 9th St, Milwaukee, WI 53233

More information after the jump.

From the ruling:

"Both defendants and amici defend Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban on the ground of tradition. Defendants say that '[t]he traditional view of marriage--between a man and woman...--has been recognized for millennia.' Dfts.' Br., dkt. #102, at 45. Amici go even further to state that 'virtually all cultures through time' have recognized marriage 'as the union of an opposite-sex couple.' Amici's Br., dkt. #109, at 3-4.

"As an initial matter, defendants and amici have overstated their argument. Throughout history, the most 'traditional' form of marriage has not been between one man and one woman, but between one man and multiple women, which presumably is not a tradition that defendants and amici would like to continue. Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History 10 (2005) ('Polygyny, whereby a man can have multiple wives, is the marriage form found in more places and at more times than any other.')."...

"This case is not about whether marriages between same-sex couples are consistent or inconsistent with the teachings of a particular religion, whether such marriages are moral or immoral or whether they are something that should be encouraged or discouraged. It is not even about whether the plaintiffs in this case are as capable as opposite-sex couples of maintaining a committed and loving relationship or raising a family together. Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution."

"It is DECLARED that art. XIII, ยง 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any Wisconsin statutory provisions, including those in Wisconsin Statutes chapter 765, that limit marriages to a "husband" and a "wife," are unconstitutional as applied to same-sex couples."

Also from the ruling, instructions on what happens next:

"Plaintiffs may have until June 16, 2014, to submit a proposed injunction that complies with the requirement in Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(d)(1)(C) to "describe in reasonable detail . . . the act or acts restrained or required." In particular, plaintiffs should identify what they want each named defendant to do or be enjoined from doing. Defendants may have one week from the date plaintiffs file their proposed injunction to file an opposition. If defendants file an opposition, plaintiffs may have one week from that date to file a reply in support of their proposed injunction."

Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin -- the statewide LGBT equality group -- reacts via press release:

"Words cannot express what this means for Wisconsinites who have waited so long - and might not have thought this day would come this soon.

"We are celebrating this joyous and historic day, and encourage the Governor and Attorney General not to appeal this decision to allow all couples the freedom to marry. Marriage matters to LGBT families and we know that love will prevail as this case is appealed.

"We are grateful to the plaintiff couples that put their personal stories before the court and made this day possible. We also are very grateful to the plaintiff couples that have defended the state's domestic partnership registry for the last five years, providing limited but critical protections to families in times of need, in the absence of the full recognition and protections of marriage.

"The order will take effect immediately, which means that marriage licenses will be available very soon. Fair Wisconsin has created a quick reference guide for those who wish to join marriage right away, including those who may have a registered domestic partnership in Wisconsin.

"Even as we move forward in celebration, there is still so much more work to do to protect the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Even if gay and lesbian couples can be married tomorrow, our trans* friends and family can still be fired, evicted, or turned away from public places simply because of who they are. Fair Wisconsin will not stop our efforts to end this discrimination, for a single moment."

Below is a copy of the ruling, via Equality Case Files.

3:14-cv-00064 #118 by Equality Case Files

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