October 22, 2014

Decision leaves Wisconsin gay marriage ban intact

A big day for marriage equality – but Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex unions remains intact. Fair Wisconsin executive director Katie Belanger said the U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act is great news, but the constitutional impediment to marriage equality remains in Wisconsin, where an amendment defining marriage as “one man-one woman” passed in 2006.

“The direct implications on the availability of marriage equality in Wisconsin don’t exist. We do still have our ban, that still stands,” said Belanger. She said it’s too soon to tell whether same-sex couples who are legally married in another state will be eligible for the federal benefits given to married couples, if they choose to live in Wisconsin.

AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60)

“As we all have time to digest it, we’ll know better how the decision will impact couples living in Wisconsin, who are legally married in another state, and whether or not they’ll receive the federal benefits and rights and obligations of marriage,” said Bellanger.

“We don’t know what will happen with that, and that’s where the legal experts on constitutional law and Supreme Court decisions will have to take a very close look and decide,” said Julaine Appling, executive director of Wisconsin Family Action. “There are some who are saying that Congress will have to address this issue. So that question does remain, and certainly states like Wisconsin could stand to impact by that down the road.”

Appling, a chief advocate for Wisconsin’s same sex marriage ban, is confident that the court’s decisions on DOMA, and on California’s Proposition 8, will have no impact in the ban here. “We’re glad that the public debate can continue. We’re glad that we in Wisconsin have a very strong marriage protection amendment in place. That DOMA decision does not impact our amendment,” she said.