Same-Sex Marriages (SSMs) in Wisconsin
Part 9: 2014-SEP:
Panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
issues ruling favoring marriage equality. (Cont'd)
Polls. Reactions. The path forward.
2014-SEP-04: Text of the ruling by the panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Cont'd):
The unanimous opinion issued by Circuit Judge Richard discussed the harm experienced by same-sex couples:
"The harm to homosexuals (and, as we’ll emphasize, to their adopted children) of being denied the right to marry is considerable. Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship; to exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status. Because homosexuality is not a voluntary condition and homosexuals are among the most stigmatized, misunderstood and discriminated-against minorities in the history of the world, the disparagement of their sexual orientation, implicit in the denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples, is a source of continuing pain to the homosexual community. ... The harm to homosexuals (and, as we’ll emphasize, to their adopted children) of being denied the right to marry is considerable. Marriage confers respectability on a sexual relationship; to exclude a couple from marriage is thus to deny it a coveted status. Because homosexuality is not a voluntary condition and homosexuals are... The grounds advanced by Indiana and Wisconsin for their discriminatory policies are not only conjectural; they are totally implausible. ... The only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction — that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended — is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously. ... Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure. ... The state should want homosexual couples who adopt children ... to be married, if it is serious in arguing that the only governmental interest in marriage derives from the problem of accidental births. (We doubt that it is serious.)" 1
The court ruling is 40 pages long. It is written using language that is very clear, and is easy to understand. It is well worth reading by anyone concerned about marriage equality in the U.S. It is also rather amusing in places. 1
Marquette University Law School's public opinion polls in Wisconsin concerning the ban on same-sex marriage:
Chuck Quirmbach, writing for National Public Radio said that last year (2013):
"... marked the first time [that] a majority of Wisconsinites were in support of same-sex marriage." 2
Marquette University conducted two public opinion polls during 2014:
These polls show results similar to those found in recent national polls.
These polling results weaken the position taken by Wisconsin religious and social conservatives against marriage equality. If the vote on the amendment that changed the state constitution to ban marriage by same-sex couples were held today, it would likely be overwhelmingly defeated.
Reactions to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling:
According to the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee-WI :
- Governor Scott Walker (R) had no immediate comment. 4
- Dana Brueck, a spokesperson for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) said the state will appeal.
However, her statement was ambiguous about whether it will be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, or to the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. She said:
"The attorney general has always believed that this case will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court." 4
- Plaintiff Karina Willes attended a news conference with her partner Kami Young and their infant daughter, Olivia. Katrina said:
"The thing that's most important is to provide a stable home for our daughter." 4
Julaine Appling is president of Wisconsin Family Action. Like most agencies with "Family" in their name, they are a conservative Christian group that favors prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying. She said:
"Essentially what the judges are saying is the 1.26 million voters who voted on this in 2006 are a bunch of homophobic, irrational bigots. I absolutely don't believe that, but that's what the judges are saying." 4
Milwaukee Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki issued a statement saying that opposite-sex:
"Marriage needs to be strengthened, not redefined. Unfortunately, the court failed to acknowledge what the people in both Indiana and Wisconsin saw fit to underscore in their state constitutions." 4
- Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, wrote:
"I am very troubled that this court failed to recognize the self-evident truth that children need and deserve a mom and dad. The ruling doesn't appear to allow society to choose to maintain a coherent definition of marriage.
"The courts have no true constitutional authority to unilaterally change the definition of our most fundamental social institution. Yet this court is engaging in judicial activism unlike yesterday's federal court ruling which upheld the right of Louisiana voters to preserve natural marriage in their state's public policy.
"The Seventh Circuit's radical departure from natural law and the received wisdom of human history continues to undermine the legitimacy of the courts in the eyes of a majority of Americans. Marriage redefinitions imposed by judicial fiat cannot change the truth about marriage, men, women, children, and parenting. Ultimately, the American people will have the final word as they experience the consequences of marriage redefinition and the ways in which it fundamentally alters America's moral, cultural and political landscape." 5
It is unclear to us why Perkins considers a definition of marriage as:
- "A voluntary union between one woman and one man of sufficient age who are not too closely related" is coherent, while
- "A voluntary union between two persons of sufficient age who are not too closely related" is incoherent.
The path forward:
The state of Wisconsin has three options:
- The ruling of the three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could be accepted and applied.
- It might be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- It might be appealed "en blanc" -- to all the judges in the Court of Appeals who would later issue their own ruling, which could be appealed to the high court.
The first option is very unlikely. It would allow loving, committed same-sex couples to marry in Wisconsin and would recognize such marriages that have been solemnized in other states. Since the government of Wisconsin has committed extensive resources to avoid this outcome, it is unlikely that the state would choose this path and willingly accept marriage equality.
The second option is quite likely. The Supreme Court has the option of refusing a lower court's appeal. Alternately, it can grant certiorari -- agree to accept the appeal. The deadline for requesting an appeal in 2014 is SEP-23. If an appeal is submitted on or before this date, then the court may announce acceptance the case(s) in 2014-DEC, hold hearings in 2015-MAR, and issue their verdict in late 2015-JUN. If the appeal is submitted after SEP-23, then it the earliest date that hearings could be held would be during 2016-MAR.
The third option is also unlikely. That would cause the 2014-SEP-23 deadline to be missed; it would delay the possible acceptance of the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by a year. By that time, the high court will have probably granted certiorari to one of more of the Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia cases, and issued a country-wide ruling for or against marriage equality.
2014-OCT-06: The U.S. Supreme Court makes an unexpected move:
As expected, the case was appealed directly from the three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court also rejected appeals from two other Circuit Courts. That rejection directly affected four additional states (IN, OK, UT, & VA). This made the three Circuit Courts' rulings binding and final. Same-sex couples in Wisconsin suddenly had the right to marry.
Marriage licenses were issued in Wisconsin to same-sex couples starting on OCT-06 -- the same day. Couples will not be able to marry right away. The state imposes a five-day waiting period before a license becomes useable. 6
There were approximately 550 couples who married in Wisconsin during mid-June. This was during the interval after District Court Judge Crabb's ruling and before her ruling was stayed. They had been living in uncertainty, not knowing whether their marriages were valid. They did not know whether they might be forcibly divorced against their will at any time. They appear to have valid marriages now.
There are an unknown number of couples living in Wisconsin who had been legally married in another state. Their marriages should be recognized now in Wisconsin.
This decision by the Supreme Court will subsequently bring same-sex marriage to six additional states: (CO, KS, NC, SC,WV,WY) which are under the jurisdiction of one of the three Circuit Court whose appeals were rejected. More details.
This surprise decision by the high court will bring same-sex marriage to 11 more states to make a total of 30 states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. 60% of Americans will live in locations where same-sex couples can marry.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Baskin v. Bogan and Wolf v. Walker ruling, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2014-SEP-05. Link is contained in at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Chuck Quirmbach, "Poll: 55 Percent Support Same-Sex Marriage In Wisconsin," National Public Radio, 2014-MAY-21, at: http://www.wpr.org/
- "New Marquette Law School poll..." Marquette University, 2014-AUG-27, at: https://law.marquette.edu/
- "Court rules against Wisconsin's, Indiana's gay marriage bans," Journal-Sentinel, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.jsonline.com/news/
- "Midwestern Court of Appeals Fails to Recognize Truth that Children Need, Deserve a Mom and Dad," Family Research Council, 2014-SEP-04, at: http://www.frc.org/
- "How same-sex marriage is unfolding in Utah, other states," Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.sltrib.com/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
First posted: 2014-SEP-06
Latest update: 2014-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson