This is beginning to get monotonous, but in a good way: a federal judge has struck down a state marriage ban as unconstitutional. This time, the state is Wisconsin, where U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled that the state’s constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2006 was nothing more than discrimination against lesbian and gay couples. “Preserving the traditional institution of marriage’ is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.” Crabb wrote.
The judge also stuck a thumb in the eye of self-appointed defenders of traditional marriage by giving them a history lesson they are unlikely to appreciate. 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 [organizations that support the ban] would like to continue,” she wrote.
While Crabb made clear her disdain for the arguments to uphold the ban, she didn’t make clear what her ruling means. She didn’t issue an immediate stay to prevent the ruling from taking effect. But she also didn’t issue an order blocking enforcement of the marriage ban, leaving lawyers scrambling to determine whether marriages can happen at once or not.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen promised to appeal the ruling. Of course, he argued, it’s only for the benefit of the couples who want to get married.
“We have seen the disruption to couples and families throughout the United States when courts have first allowed same-sex marriage only to have those marriages subsequently called into question by another court,” Van Hollen claimed disingenuously. If he didn’t appeal the ruling, though, the marriages wouldn’t be called into question.
The Wisconsin ruling is another nail in the coffin of marriage bans. In another sign of the inevitability of a nationwide sweep, a lawsuit has been filed in North Dakota, the last state to have its ban challenged in court.
And, in an important signal to the Supreme Court, a majority of Americans now believe that marriage equality is a constitutional right. Fifty percent of those asked in a Washington Post/ABC News poll said that marriage equality is covered under the Constitution’s equal protection clause, the one that judges keep citing in striking down marriage bans. With momentum like that, opponents haven’t a prayer of winning the battle.