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.