Skip to main content

Wisconsin same-sex marriage ban struck down

By Greg Botelho, CNN
June 7, 2014 -- Updated 0136 GMT (0936 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage
  • She's the latest judge to do so; the Supreme Court could decide the case
  • Wisconsin's attorney general says the current law stands, he'll appeal ruling

(CNN) -- Wisconsin on Friday joined the growing number of states where federal judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans. The decision was cheered by lesbian and gay rights advocates, but it's not necessarily a final victory.

The Wisconsin ban violates the U.S. Constitution, said U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb. She said same-sex couples "are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple."

April Dawn Breeden, left, and longtime partner Crystal Peairs are married by the Rev. Katie Hotze-Wilton at St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday, November 5. A Missouri judge on November 5 overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages and ordered registrars to start issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow marriage for same-sex couples. April Dawn Breeden, left, and longtime partner Crystal Peairs are married by the Rev. Katie Hotze-Wilton at St. Louis City Hall on Wednesday, November 5. A Missouri judge on November 5 overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriages and ordered registrars to start issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia allow marriage for same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriage in the U.S.
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Same-sex marriage in the U.S. Photos: Same-sex marriage in the U.S.
Gay rights advocate: America is ready
Inside Politics: Marriage Defense
A brief history of gay marriage

"I conclude that the Wisconsin laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples interfere with plaintiffs' right to marry, in violation of the due process clause, and discriminate against plaintiffs on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the (Constitution's) equal protection clause," the judge wrote.

Crabb did not immediately stay her own ruling, as some other federal judges issuing similar decisions have done, nor did she state that it takes effect right away.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the current law restricting marriage to one man and one woman, which is written into the Wisconsin state constitution, "remains in force."

"While today's decision is a setback, we'll continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters," Van Hollen said. "I will appeal."

Opinion: Marriage equality is unstoppable

In her ruling, Crabb noted that all federal judges weighing in on state same-sex marriage bans have come to the same conclusion -- that such prohibitions should not stand -- since the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on U.S. v. Winsdor last June.

That 5-4 opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act's definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman but did not directly affect individual states' laws restricting marriage based on sexual orientation. Yet many federal judges have cited the decision on United States v. Windsor in their judgments, as well as the argument that same-sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Several appeals courts have heard arguments on some of the district court rulings that have been challenged, though none has come out with its own decision. Van Hollen said he expects "the U.S. Supreme Court will give finality to this issue in their next term."

Even if it's not a final decision, LGBT advocates cheered Friday's ruling on Wisconsin.

"Across the country, the courts agree: Same-sex couples and their families need the dignity of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible," said Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry.

"... Today's decision in Wisconsin underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. It's time now for the Supreme Court to bring resolution nationwide."

State-by-state breakdown on same-sex marriage

Part of complete coverage on
Same-sex marriage debate
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2235 GMT (0635 HKT)
Same-sex marriage is spreading quickly in the U.S., even reaching several "red" states. Activists have also launched a new push in the Deep South.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 1725 GMT (0125 HKT)
Never has the Supreme Court said so much when saying so little.
Find out which states match your values when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1450 GMT (2250 HKT)
Here's a look at what you need to know about same-sex marriage in the U.S. and worldwide.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 0222 GMT (1022 HKT)
Here's a look at same-sex marriage in the United States, by the numbers.
Which states allow same-sex marriage, and which states don't?
November 16, 2014 -- Updated 1615 GMT (0015 HKT)
Evangelical leaders are taking a step back from their decades-long fight against gay marriage, softening their tone and recalibrating their goals.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 2348 GMT (0748 HKT)
In the same-sex marriage debate, Elton John believes he knows where Jesus would've stood.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.
June 28, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Anthony Sullivan was a young Australian with Robert Redford looks. Richard Adams emigrated from the Philippines as a child and became an American citizen.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1931 GMT (0331 HKT)
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.
ADVERTISEMENT