The Not So Great News Even If Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Declares Marriage Ban Unconstitutional


I’ve been waiting around all day for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, ruler of newly single Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s home state, to decide whether the 2006 state constitution’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage can stand, and then I realized I had my calendar mis-marked. The ruling is expected tomorrow! Which gives you plenty of time to get excited about the possibility of the amendment being declared invalid, and then sad again when you realize the court’s decision, depending on how narrow it is, might not change things as the state law passed by legislators defining marriage as between a man and a woman still exists.

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  • Brandon

    I live in Wisconsin, and it will be a huge win for us if the Court strikes down the amendment. Yeah, unfortunately it doesn’t legalize gay marriage right away, but if there isn’t any prohibition against it in the Constitution, we can THEN bring forward a subsequent case asking the State Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage just as they did in Iowa. Without the Court striking down the amendment, it’ll be a hell of a lot tougher, as we first need to convince the likely Republican state legislature on two seperate occasons to even put a repeal of the amendment before the voters on the ballot, and then hope a majority of the voters will want strike it down. All that takes an absolute MINIMUM of four years. Rome wasn’t built in a day, guys; one step at a time here.

  • Steveo

    What’s up with the negativity in this article? Can Queerty see the good in /anything/?

  • Ronald

    Well, so much for trusting in the court! Of course, they court was asked to decide if the amenedment as proposed was legal, and was not asked to decide if the amenedment violated the US Constitutions “equal protection clause” as contained in the 14th Amendment. It is sad that the rights of a minority can be abrogated, denied or abridged by a vote of the majority. I guess the next step will be an amendment to ban whites from marrying blacks. If the same-sex ban is legit, why wouldn’t that amendment be?

  • RobSchendel

    State Supreme Court upholds gay marriage ban
    By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
    Posted: June 30, 2010 7:48 a.m. |(144) COMMENTS

    Madison – A legal challenge to the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage was rejected Wednesday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

    In a resounding 7-0 ruling, the justices upheld a lower court’s finding that the 2006 constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum.

    In doing so, the court dismissed a plaintiff’s argument that lawmakers violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single subject when they gave voters one referendum question that included two sections – one on gay marriage and one on civil unions.

    “Both sentences of the marriage amendment relate to marriage and tend to effect or carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote.

    In November 2006, voters were asked whether the state should ban same-sex marriage and whether it should ban “identical or substantially similar arrangements,” such as civil unions. Wisconsin voters adopted the amendment with 59% of the vote.

    Bill McConkey, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science instructor from Door County, sued the state in 2007 in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the ban should be struck down. Voters didn’t have a chance to vote “no” to one part and “yes” to the other, so the entire amendment should be thrown out, McConkey argued.

    But the office of state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen countered that the constitution was properly amended because the two parts of the amendment were closely related and part of the same general purpose.

    The case centered on the technical process of amending the constitution and did not touch on the controversial question of whether gay couples should be allowed to marry or enter into civil unions. Even if the court had not upheld the constitutional ban, gay marriage would have still been illegal because of a state law.

    McConkey, who has a lesbian daughter, lost the case in Dane County court and appealed. The appeals court didn’t rule on the case and asked the Supreme Court to take it up because of its constitutional significance.

    The state also argued McConkey didn’t have standing to sue because he has said he would have voted “no” on both questions if the referendum had been written in two parts. That concession means he wasn’t harmed by the way the referendum was written because he wouldn’t have voted “yes” on one question and “no” on the other, the state argued.

    McConkey said that he might have persuaded other voters to cast their ballots differently and the Supreme Court ultimately decided to rule on the substance of his lawsuit.

    Last summer, lawmakers and Gov. Jim Doyle approved domestic partner benefits for qualifying gay and lesbian couples, allowing them to register and receive about 40 of the 150 rights afforded married couples, such as hospital visitation rights.

    In July, the social conservative group Wisconsin Family Action and others asked the high court to block the law, saying it violated the constitutional amendment. Family Action took the case directly to the state Supreme Court, which declined the group’s petition without comment in November.

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