A United States District Court judge has ruled that Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
Judge Barbara Crabb issued a motion of summary judgment for the paintiffs, stating that Article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution “violates planitiffs’ fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Read the full 88-page court ruling here
“My task under federal law is to decide the claims presented by the plaintiffs in this case now, applying the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court,” she said. “Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any hetersexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.”
It wasn’t clear whether Crabb’s 88-page ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately. But 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.
County clerks in Milwaukee and Madison said they had just learned of the decision and were trying to figure out if and when they could begin issuing marriage licenses. Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said he was keeping his office open until 9 p.m. Friday while an attorney reviewed the decision in case he could begin accepting marriage licenses Friday evening.
Crabb said in the ruling that while public opinion may slowly be changing, the court could not delay its ruling.
“Perhaps it is true that the Wisconsin legislature and voters would choose to repeal the marriage amendment and amend the statutory marriage laws to be inclusive of same-sex couples at some point in the future,” Crabb said. “Perhaps it is also true that, if the courts had refused to act in the 1950s and 1960s, eventually all states would have voted to end segregation. Regardless, a district court may not abstain from deciding a case because of a possibility that the issues raised in the case could be resolved in some other way at some other time.”
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Friday that he believes the current law remains in force.