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Federal Court Overturns Wisconsin’s Gay Marriage Ban

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On Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin witnessed Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban struck down as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb gave summary judgment in Wolf v. Walker and declared art. XIII, § 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution “violates plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

The judge further added in the order that any Wisconsin statutory provisions including those in Wisconsin Statutes chapter 765, “that limit marriages to a “husband and a “wife,” are unconstitutional as applied to same-sex couples.”

  
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Unlike some other federal judges, Judge Crabb did not put a stay on her order while waiting for it to be challenged, she gave the parties time to submit a proposed injunction (as to the measures that should be taken to effectively fight the ban) and also file in opposition, and wrote in the order, “I will address defendants’ pending motion to stay the injunction after the parties have had an opportunity to file materials to the proposed injunction.”

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an emergency request asking Crabb for a stay.

In the concluding part of her 88-page decision, Crabb wrote, “It is well-established that “the Constitution protects persons, not groups” … so regardless of possible future events affecting the larger community, my task under federal law is to decide the claims presented by the plaintiffs in this case now, applying the provisions in the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court in cases such as Loving, Romer, Lawrence and Windsor.

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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.”

County Clerks across Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses late Friday after the order became known, and gay couples were married throughout Friday night in many places and continued through Saturday.



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