Monday, October 6, 2014

MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS LAW! Supreme Court refuses WI appeal on same-sex marriage

Appeals court decisions in five states brings equality across the nation closer to reality

UPDATE 10:29 AM >>> A couple of reactions from the gubernatorial candidates:

UPDATE 10:10 AM >>> Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell released the following statement after the Supreme Court ruling was issued today: "Based on the Supreme Court’s denial of Cert and advise of the Dane County Corporation Counsel’s office, my office will again be issuing same sex marriage licenses today. Our hours will be the normal 8 to 4pm for licenses."

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected hearing a slew of cases on same-sex marriage, effectively allowing appeals court decisions in several states to become the rule of law.

That means in Wisconsin, gay and lesbian couples can now wed. Previously, a week-long period of marriages occurred when Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that denying same-sex couples marriage licenses was a violation of the Equal Protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. Crabb later put a stay on her decision, leaving in doubt the validity of marriage licenses for over 500 couples in the state.

Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen sought to appeal that decision in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a three-judge decision, that court determined that Crabb’s initial ruling was proper, and reaffirmed that same-sex marriages should be allowed in the state.

Judge Richard Prosner, an appointee of Ronald Reagan, questioned why the law was needed in the first place, calling it ridiculous and absurd in the decision he wrote.
”These people and their adopted children are harmed by your law,” Judge Richard Posner said of gay and lesbian couples who are barred from getting married. “The question is, what is the offsetting benefit of your law. Who is being helped?”
Rather than accepting that opinion, JB Van Hollen further appealed the decision to the Supreme Court late this past summer. Today, the High Court determined it would not hear his, nor any other state’s, appeal currently on the docket.


This decision is welcomed news for the state of Wisconsin. For too many years, gay and lesbian couples have been treated as second-class citizens when it came to their unions. Domestic partnerships provided some relief, but on other issues -- such as adoption rights, tax benefits, hospital visitations, and more -- couples were denied essential rights necessary for families to function in the real world. The ban essentially created a separate AND unequal status to these couples and to their children.

Both Gov. Scott Walker and AG Van Hollen stood in the way of marriage equality in the state in recent months. Walker took an indirect role in the whole matter, stating that his hands were tied since the law was a state constitutional amendment.

He easily could have swayed his attorney general’s decision to appeal by stating his support for letting go of the ban. Instead, in an election year where the governor wants to appear both conservative and moderate, Walker took a cowardly position of trying to seem like he held none at all.

While Wisconsin now has marriage equality, several states across the nation are still lagging behind. The decision by SCOTUS means that only those states that have appealed to them will receive marriage equality status, meaning only five additional states will see equality realized today.

But that’s a step in the right direction. As “the arc of the moral universe” bends towards justice, so too will marriage equality be realized across all fifty states of our union. It will remain a long and arduous path to take, but today’s declaration is a step closer towards equality for all couples, all families across the nation.

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