Van Hollen seeks to halt judge's ruling against gay-marriage ban - WBAY

Van Hollen seeks to halt judge's ruling against gay-marriage ban

Wisconsin's attorney general says he'll file emergency motions to stay a judge's ruling after some county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday afternoon.

Clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties began issuing licenses after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional (see related story at

"Article 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection laws under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution," Judge Crabb wrote.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on the behalf of eight same-sex couples.

"They won. Marriage equality has come to Wisconsin," Larry Dupuis, legal director for the ACLU of Wisconsin, said.

The ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed. In a statement saying he'd request the emergency motions, Van Hollen said he's confident a court will stay the ruling, pointing out the Supreme Court granted a stay when a judge overturned Utah's gay-marriage ban.

Julaine Appling, president of the Wisconsin Family Council, was disappointed by the judge's ruling, "I'm very disappointed for the people of this state who voted at 1.6 million plus in 2006 to put this very legal amendment in place in our state constitution. I'm sad for them today."

Eight years ago, 59% of Wisconsin voters approved an amendment, Article 13, that the state only recognizes marriage between one man and one woman, and denies granting rights substantially similar to marriage to same-sex couples.

Crabb says marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution and that by upholding Article 13  "it has limited the class of people who are entitled to marry."

"This case is not about whether marriage between same-sex couples are consistent or inconsistent with the teachings of a particular religion, whether such marriages are moral or immoral or whether they are something that should be encouraged or discouraged. It is not even about whether the plaintiffs in this case are as capable as opposite-sex couples of maintaining a committed and loving relationship or raising a family together. Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution," Crabb wrote.

The ACLU's Dupuis said, "This is an incredible day, time to celebrate. Obviously there are more steps coming, but this is a huge, huge victory for equality and freedom in this state."

Appling said, "Not only has marriage been turned on its head -- now in our state and other states across the county -- but also the rule of law in a sense."

Van Hollen, who's not running for re-election, acknowledged there could be a long legal battle ahead that will continue after he's out of office.

“As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution. While today’s decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. I will appeal.

Importantly, current law remains in force. I am encouraged by the District Court’s refusal to issue an immediate injunction. We have seen the disruption to couples and families throughout the United States when courts have first allowed same-sex marriage only to have those marriages subsequently called into question by another court. I anticipate the United States Supreme Court will give finality to this issue in their next term.

I will continue defend our Constitution and law in whatever forum is appropriate and I would hope my successor will fulfill this same oath and obligation.”

A statement from Governor Walker's office added:

"It is correct for the Attorney General, on this or any other issue, to defend the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, especially in a case where the people voted to amend it."

Mary Burke, a Democrat running for governor, reacted differently to the ruling:

"Today is a great day for Wisconsin and committed couples who love each other across the state. Every loving couple should have the freedom to marry whomever they choose, and the fact that this freedom is now available in Wisconsin is something we all can and should be proud of."
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