Wisconsin’s ban on marriage equality remains unchallenged

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2013 saw ten additional states legalize same-sex marriage, creating a grand total of eighteen US states with marriage equality. But the fight is far from over.

In 2006, Wisconsin passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as an institution reserved for heterosexual couples. Unlike Utah’s similar law, Wisconsin’s ban has remained unchallenged.

“As closely as we watch these things, I can’t tell you why there isn’t one here,” president of the anti-same-sex marriage group Wisconsin Family Action, Julaine Appling, said, according to The Cap Times. “I can say that we remain on high alert for such challenges.”

Appling offered a possible explanation as to why some states are passing marriage equality and others are not: “It is our opinion that, for the most part, people seeking to challenge these amendments look around carefully for where they want to challenge and before what judges.”

In the case of Utah, the official in charge of lifting the ban on same-sex was Judge Robert Shelby, who was appointed to the bench by President Obama.

In order for Wisconsin to pass marriage equality, there would have to be a legal suit, which gay rights organizations such as Fair Wisconsin have yet to put forth as a strategy.

Fair Wisconsin has instead pushed local domestic partner ordinances. Although fundamentally different than marriages, domestic partnerships help to provide legal rights such as importnat benefits from employers. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is currently reviewing the legality of domestic partnership benefits.

“It might seem passé to still be defending such a limited set of legal protections when so many similar states now have full marriage equality, but the outcome of that case could have a tremendous impact on potential future litigation on the issue of marriage equality in Wisconsin,” the external relations director for Fair Wisconsin, Megin McDonell, said.

Wisconsin Family Action is adamantly against same-sex marriage, and the group is prepared to combat any challenge to the current amendment declaring that marriage is reserved the union of a man and a woman.

“[Same-sex marriage advocates] can push back, but it’s not like we entered this fray yesterday. We’ve been in it for 20-some years…Marriage is not a fundamental right…there is a rational basis for the protection of traditional marriage, and that rational basis rests squarely on the fact that the next generation needs a mom and a dad,” Appling said.

429Magazine

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