Yesterday, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled that the state’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality is unconstitutional. With US District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling, Wisconsin becomes the twelfth state to see marriage bans struck down since the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling last June.
In her ruling, Judge Crabb wrote, “Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.” She goes on to write,
In 1954, in what likely was one of the first cases explicitly addressing issues involving gay persons, a federal district court denied a claim involving censorship of a gay news magazine, stating that the court “rejected” the “suggestion that homosexuals should be recognized as a segment of our people.” […] In light of Windsor and the many decisions that have invalidated restrictions on same-sex marriage since Windsor, it appears that courts are moving toward a consensus that it is time to embrace full legal equality for gay and lesbian citizens. Perhaps it is no coincidence that these decisions are coming at a time when public opinion is moving quickly in the direction of support for same sex marriage. […] Perhaps it is true that the Wisconsin legislature and voters would choose to repeal the marriage amendment and amend the statuatory marriage laws to be inclusive of same-sex couples at some point in the future. […] Regardless, a district court may not abstain from deciding a case because of the possibility that the issues raised in the case could be resolved in some other way at some other time. […] Because my review of the law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.
The Wisconsin state attorney general J.B. Van Hollen filed a motion in court earlier this month asking the judge to stay her decision if she rules in favor of the plaintiffs. Clerks in Madison and Milwaukee began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples shortly after the judge’s ruling yesterday. Judge Crabb will decide next week whether to put her decision on hold while it is appealed.