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Lawsuit Filed Challenging Wisconsin's Ban on Gay Marriage

Add another state to the list.

Kemp_carlsonThe Washington Blade reports:

Same-sex couples in Wisconsin joined others throughout the country on Monday in filing a lawsuit seeking same-sex marriage, but efforts there are unique because of the penalties for marrying in another jurisdiction.

The litigation seeks not only to overturn the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, but also to enjoin state official from enforcing a “marriage evasion law” prohibiting couples — gay and straight — from going elsewhere to marry.

The penalties of violating the marriage evasion law in Wisconsin, which is the only state to have such a statute, include up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in prison.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Mayer Brown LLP before th U.S. Disctrict Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Marie Carlson and Charvonne Kemp of Milwaukee (pictured); Virginia Wolf and Carol Schumacher of Eau Claire, Wis.; Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee; and Judith “Judi” Trampf and Katharina “Katy” Heyning of Madison are named as plaintiffs. Read their stories here.

The ACLU adds:

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”

Read the complaint HERE.

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Comments

  1. WTF? How it it this has never been challenged before? Oh well, with Windor now settled, this clearly sets-up a real jeopardy for those who want federal marriage benefits now available. Good. I think the marriage ban will be struck down while the court is at it. Sheesh.

    Posted by: Zlick | Feb 3, 2014 2:47:50 PM


  2. WTF? How it it this has never been challenged before? Oh well, with Windor now settled, this clearly sets-up a real jeopardy for those who want federal marriage benefits now available. Good. I think the marriage ban will be struck down while the court is at it. Sheesh.

    Posted by: Zlick | Feb 3, 2014 2:47:57 PM


  3. Love it! And WI is a blue state. Take that Paul Ryan!

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 3, 2014 3:09:42 PM


  4. @zlick It's never been challenged before because it is in the Wisconsin constitution and therefore makes any challenges in state court mute. Recent federal cases make the odds of winning now much great.

    Posted by: Rachel | Feb 3, 2014 3:17:51 PM


  5. As a Wisconsin resident I welcome this. The draconian law referenced in the article is indeed on-the-books, but not currently enforced. The fact that it is not enforced does not make it any less evil. At the very least, this suit ought to be able to make that disappear immediately and with any luck, prevail over foes of marriage equality.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Feb 3, 2014 4:22:29 PM


  6. @Spacetcadet
    Unfortunately Wis isn't blue. It's very red. Republican Governor. Republican legislature. Home of RNC chair Priebus, VP candidate Paul Ryan.

    Wisconsin has one of the most prohibitive and punitive anti-gay marriage bans in the country. The extra punitive statutes may very well be their undoing. ACLU is asking for heightened scrutiny (without citing Abbott gay juror ruling) due to long standing societal persecution and the 'fines & prison' language is going to make states argument look ridiculous.

    Level of scrutiny is also scheduled to be a part of the DeBoer trial in Michigan later this month unless Justice Friedman finds it unnecessary due to the Reinhardt ruling.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Feb 3, 2014 5:28:41 PM


  7. Wisconsin makes it a crime to get married in another state, with up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in prison?

    Alabama must be SO-O-O-O-O jealous after reading that.. Alabama, are you so jealous it hurts?

    Posted by: AdamTh | Feb 3, 2014 9:18:45 PM


  8. @Seriously, the Reinhardt ruling in SmithKline Beechum doesn't apply in Wisconsin or Michigan. That ruling covers the 9th Circuit. WI and MI are in the 7th and 6th Circuits, respectively.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 3, 2014 9:47:08 PM


  9. Wisconsin has a long Democratic and progressive history. It was the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. It has fallen Democrat for much of recent history - Scott Walker's legacy notwithstanding.

    Posted by: Andy | Feb 4, 2014 12:38:34 AM


  10. Imagine if that law was enforced how many heterosexual couples who'd be locked up & fined for their Las Vegas/Hawaii/ Caribbean marriages!!

    Posted by: CC | Feb 4, 2014 7:52:35 AM


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