MADISON, Wisc. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit on Monday in an attempt to overturn Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex ‘marriage.’
Wisconsin voters passed a constitutional amendment in November 2006 that enshrined marriage as being between a man and a woman.
“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state,” the measure, passed by 59 percent of the vote, reads. “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”
The amendment was challenged in 2009 at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but was deemed to be constitutional.
However, the ACLU of Wisconsin is reviving the challenge in federal court, asserting that the ban is discriminatory and thus unlawful.
“We expect to demonstrate that Wisconsin’s refusal to allow marriages or to recognize out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples violates the fundamental right to marry, as well as the equal protection guarantee of the 14th amendment of the United States constitution,” legal director Larry Dupuis told local television station WXOW.
The suit was filed on behalf of eight homosexuals in the state, who assert that the criminal penalties attached to the law, which include fines and jail time, are excessive.
“Wisconsin’s refusal to recognize these Plaintiffs’ committed relationships, its elimination of even the possibility of seeking redress through the state legislature, and the possibility of criminal prosecution for doing nothing more than marrying the person they love has led these Plaintiffs’ to seek relief from this Court,” the federal complaint contends.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has stated that he will uphold the amendment in court and is willing to enter into the battle to protect the will of the people.
“This constitutional amendment was approved by a large majority of Wisconsin residents,” he wrote in a statement on Monday. “I believe the amendment is constitutional, and I will vigorously defend it.”
Governor Scott Walker (R) has not yet issued remarks surrounding the legal challenge as he is currently traveling in Texas, but has inferred in the past that he supports the state’s amendment. However, Walker has also expressed support for anti-discrimination laws, calling the two types of legislation a “healthy balance.”
“They’ve worked quite effectively,” he told Bloomberg TV last November of the state’s discrimination prohibitions. “We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man, one woman. … There’s a healthy balance there.”
Other similar lawsuits are pending in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Arizona and Kentucky.
“Where does this stop?” Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, told reporters following the announcement of the Wisconsin suit. “Where does the redefinition of marriage stop?”