Domestic Partnerships &
Same-Sex Marriages (SSMs) in Wisconsin
2006 until now:
Bans added to state
Positive ruling in federal District Court.
Same-sex marriages available briefly.
Case appealed to 7th U.S. Court of Appeals.
Court issues ruling in favor of SSM.
Timeline of the struggle to attain marriage equality in Wisconsin:
- 2006: Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution, by passing Referendum 1, with
a vote of
59% to 41%. This banned both civil unions and marriages by same-sex couples.
- 2009: Governor Jim Doyle (D) sponsored a bill to create a system of Domestic Partnerships in the state that would give registered same-sex couples a few of the benefits and protections given automatically to all married couples.
- 2010: The constitutionality of Referendum 1 was challenged in state court, but was upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
- 2011: An attempt by a conservative group, Wisconsin Family Action, to have domestic partnerships declared unconstitutional failed. A poll in MAY shows that only 42% of Wisconsin voters favor same-sex marriages; 46% were opposed; 12% uncertain.
- 2014-FEB: The lawsuit Wolf v. Walker was filed in a federal District Court to seek marriage equality in Wisconsin.
- 2014-JUN-06: U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued a ruling finding that Referendum 1 is unconstitutional because it violates the due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Judge Crabb did not immediately stay her ruling. As a result, about 550 same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses and be married.
- 2014-JUN-13: Judge Crabb did stay her ruling after having received briefs from the plaintiffs and defendants. The Attorney General appealed the case to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The status of the marriages made during the week between the ruling and stay is uncertain. Further developments may cause these newly married couples to be forcibly divorced against their will.
- 2014-AUG-26: A randomly selected panel of three judges of the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals heard an appeal of Wolf v. Walker to overturn Wisconsin's ban of marriages by same-sex couples. During the same session, they also heard an appeal of a consolidated set of three lawsuits challenging Indiana's marriage ban. From the pointed questions asked by the judges, the states failed to make their case against marriage equality.
- 2014-SEP-04: The panel of three judges unanimously agreed that both the Wisconsin and Indiana marriage bans violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Since the U.S. Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, this makes the marriage ban embedded in the Wiskonsin Constitution void and unenforceable. Wisconsin will appeal the case. But a statement by a spokesperson was somewhat ambiguous. It is unclear whether he will appeal the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or indirectly to that court via the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- More developments are inevitable.
Topic covered in this section:
- Part 1: 2006 to 2011: Bans added to state
legalized. Poll about SSMs among voters.
- Part 2: 2013-AUG to 2014-JUN: Illinois Governor Quinn urged adoption of SSMs.
Lawsuit Wolf v. Walker launched in federal District Court. Results of a poll of voters.
- Part 3: 2014-JUN: Court ruled SSM ban unconstitutional. Lack of consensus about SSM legality. Confusion reigns.
- Part 4: 2014-JUN:
Webmaster's comments. State begins to register SSMs. Confusion continues.
- Part 5: 2014-JUN: More webmaster's comments. District Court Judge Crabb issues stay. Attorney General plans appeal.
- Part 6: 2014-JUN: Reactions by religious and social conservatives.
- Part 7: 2014-JUL/AUG: Attorney General appeals case to 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hearing held. Marriage ban ruled unconstitutional
- Part 8: 2014-AUG /SEP: Appeal heard before a 3-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Court rules in favor of marriage equality.
- Part 9: 2014-SEP: Panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues ruling favoring marriage equality. (Cont'd)
First posted: 2014-JUN-12
Latest update: 2014-SEP-07
Author: B.A. Robinson