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Seeking Conservative Endorsement, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Touts Anti-Gay Views

WalkerCurrent Wisconsin Governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker (R) has been careful to avoid publicly expressing his official views on hot button issues like abortion and gay marriage. In the face of the looming November 4th election date however, Walker has begun to more aggressively court Wisconsin’s conservative vote. In an attempt to secure endorsement from Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative 501c(4) organization, Walker opened up about his stance on same sex marriage and a woman’s right to choose.

"I would hope that my record and the stark contrast with my opponent's positions would garner your support," the governor implored, asserting his belief that marriage could only be defined as a union between a man and a woman.

Before becoming governor Walker openly endorsed a proposal for a same sex marriage ban within Wisconsin. More recently he’s dodged direct questions about his opinions on marriage equality given steadily shifting poll numbers indicating the public’s broadening acceptance.

"He hasn't been straight with people," said Mary Burke, Burke’s primary democratic competition. "He does owe it to the people of Wisconsin to be clear on these issues."

Walker reaffirmed his opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, pointing to his decisions to cut funding, access, and support to abortion providers throughout the state. Last year Walker stealthily signed a bill into law that required women seeking abortions to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds. The bill also drastically reduced the number of centers allowed to perform abortions by banning doctors without broader admitting privileges from performing the procedure.

"This bill improves a woman's ability to make an informed choice that will protect her physical and mental health now and in the future," Walker said of the bill, which he pointedly elected to sign in private.


Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriage in Seven New States: VIDEO

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Responding to the Supreme Court's marriage decision last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will begin recognizing same-sex marriages taking place in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Idaho - with additional states likely to follow.

Said Holder:

“I am pleased to announce that the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages now taking place in the affected states, and I have directed lawyers here at the Department of Justice to work with our colleagues at agencies across the Administration to ensure that all applicable federal benefits are extended to those couples as soon as possible.  We will not delay in fulfilling our responsibility to afford every eligible couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, the full rights and responsibilities to which they are entitled.

He continued:

The steady progress toward LGBT equality we’ve seen – and celebrated – is important and historic.  But there remain too many places in this country where men and women cannot visit their partners in the hospital, or be recognized as the rightful parents of their own adopted children; where people can be discriminated against just because they are gay.  Challenges to marriage restrictions are still being actively litigated in courts across the country.  And while federal appeals courts have so far been unanimous in finding that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, if a disagreement does arise, the Supreme Court may address the question head-on.  If that happens, the Justice Department is prepared to file a brief consistent with its past support for marriage equality. 

Watch Holder's full remarks HERE.

In addition to the seven states above, marriage equality has also come to West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arizona (announced earlier today).

Gay marriage began in Alaska but has since been put on hold while the state appeals a pro-equality ruling to the Supreme Court (expect marriages to resume later today)

A federal court ruling in the challenge to Wyoming's gay marriage ban is expected Monday, with Governor Matt Mead saying the state will respect whatever decision is made.


Wisconsin Gov. Walker To Grant Recognition To 550 Same-Sex Couples Married In June

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) has announced that the state will recognize the 550 or so marriages between same-sex couples that were performed this past June in the wake of a federal judge's ruling that found Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports:

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said his administration would now treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples the same for issuing wedding licenses and "determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage."

"Per the guidance from the Department of Justice, state agencies will examine and update forms, manuals, and other documents consistent with the ruling, and the state will be treating licenses issued in June as valid marriage licenses," Patrick said. 
 
Larry Dupuis, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, called the order "great news" and said it should help to wrap up litigation over gay marriage. The ACLU represents same-sex couples who brought the original lawsuit against the state for recognition of the right to marry as well as a follow-up lawsuit regarding several hundred couples who didn't have their June marriages recognized.
 
Kiersten Bloechl-Karlsen, one of the plaintiffs in the follow-up lawsuit, praised the order.
 
"In our case, I’ve been a mother to our little girl since the day she was born but was unable to sign her birth certificate. We can now pursue a second parent adoption so that our right as a family to remain legally connected to each other, no matter what happens, is not compromised," she said in a statement.
 
In a question and answer page on its web page, the state Department of Revenue said that going forward same-sex newlyweds will need to file their taxes as married filing jointly or separately, just as other couples do. 
 
Couples will also be available to file amended tax returns for 2013 and prior years where applicable, according to the agency. That would allow couples to go as far back as amending tax returns filed for the 2010 tax year in April 2011. 

Marriage equality was halted in Wisconsin after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Federal Judge Barbara Crabb's decision and decided to review the case. The 7th Circuit ruled unanimously against the ban. As a consequence, the state appealed the appellate court's ruling to the Supreme Court. The high Court passed on the case, leaving in place the 7th Circuit's ruling. Following that decision from the Court, a spokesperson for Governor Walker then commented, "Our office is working with the Department of Justice to evaluate the impact of the Supreme Court's decision and determine next steps for the state." Next steps that now seem to indicate a fuller measure of equality for Wisconsin's LGBT citizens.


WATCH: Gay Couples Tie the Knot in Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Utah, and Wisconsin

Virginia

Huge day for equality as gay couples in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin have finally secured the freedom to marry after the Supreme Court refused to review seven gay marriage cases before it this morning.

The court's decision has also paved the way for marriage equality to begin in Colorado, Kansas, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Wyoming in the near future. 

Tons of footage and pictures are streaming in from couples who are taking part in this historic day. Check out our rolling coverage AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: autoplay)

(photo via Instagram)

Continue reading "WATCH: Gay Couples Tie the Knot in Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Utah, and Wisconsin" »


Wisconsin Gov. Walker Reacts to SCOTUS Marriage Denial; Some Counties Begin Issuing Licenses

Wisconsin

Dane and Outgamie Counties in Wisconsin have begun issuing marriage licenses to Gay couples, WBAY reports. "Brown County, Calumet County and Fond du Lac County say they are waiting for more guidance from the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office."

Also:

WalkerThe Wisconsin Attorney General's Office says they will work with clerks as couples as the office's legal fight to uphold a voter-approved ban on gay marriage ends. They released this statement:

"Today's action by the U.S. Supreme Court allows Judge Crabb's order to take effect. The Department, having made every effort to fulfill its duty to defend the state constitution, will now work with its state agency clients to implement the order."

A spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker (pictured) released this statement:

"Our office is working with the Department of Justice to evaluate the impact of the Supreme Court's decision and determine next steps for the state."

Dane County is home to Madison. Outgamie is home to Appleton.

UPDATE: Milwaukee and Waushara Counties will begin issuing licenses today as well.


Seventh Circuit Puts Wisconsin Gay Marriages on Hold Until Supreme Court Action

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has put a stay on its ruling earlier this month overturning Wisconsin's gay marriage ban until the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

WisconsinThe 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked its own order in the Wisconsin case two days after it blocked its order in a similar case out of Indiana. Those moves by the 7th Circuit were widely expected because of an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court that showed a majority of justices want the marriage bans around the country to remain in place while they consider whether to hear one of the lawsuits against those bans.

Last week, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the U.S. Supreme Court to restore Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, arguing that the case that began in Madison offers the justices the best vehicle for resolving the historic question of whether bans on same-sex unions violate the U.S. Constitution.

The 7th Circuit said Wednesday that it would let that Supreme Court appeal play out.

"The stay will terminate automatically if the certiorari petition (to the Supreme Court) is denied or will terminate upon the judgment of the Supreme Court if the certiorari petition is granted," the 7th Circuit's one-page order reads.

Last week, plaintiffs in the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage cases urged the Supreme Court to review challenges to their states' gay marriage bans.

The court has announced it will consider those petitions in a private meeting September 29. 


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