Friday, April 10, 2009

Wisconsin High Court Asked to Review Same-Sex Marriage Ban

The Wisconsin Supreme Court was asked Thursday to decide whether the state’s 2006 ban on gay marriage was properly put to voters.

The case, having initially been dismissed by a county judge, was sent to the appeals court who side-stepped it. They said the case presents several new legal issues that should be decided by the state’s highest court.

“The validity of the marriage amendment is a matter of significant public interest with statewide implications,” the three-judge panel wrote.

William McConkey, a 66-year old who describes himself as a “Christian, straight, married," man with a gay daughter is a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science instructor. He claims the referendum illegally put two issues to voters at the same time: whether to ban gay marriage and whether to outlaw civil unions.

Either way, nearly 60 percent of voters approved.

More work would need to be done to legalize same-sex marriage in Wisconsin even if a ruling struck down the Wisconsin amendment because state law still defines marriage as a union between husband and wife. However, it could pave the way for lawmakers to eventually allow it or advocates to file additional lawsuits seeking that right.

Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has a plan being considered by the legislature that would create a domestic partnership giving same-sex couples 43 benefits granted to married couples in an attempt to undermine the amendment.

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