Wis. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage ban - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wis. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage ban

MADISON (WKOW) -- The California Supreme Court decision to uphold that state's ban on gay marriage could have a ripple effect across the country, including here in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is getting ready to hear arguments over the state's ban on gay marriage. People are already preparing for a legal battle.

The case before Wisconsin's justices is technically different, but ideologically, some people may not be able to tell the difference. California's ruling had to do with whether or not voters could change the constitution. In Wisconsin, it's all about the referendum question.

The current amendment, approved by the both houses of state legislature in 2004, and approved by 59 percent of Wisconsin voters in 2006, reads: "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

Opponents of the ban say having two questions limited voters who might have supported civil unions.

"They combined both of those into one single question," said Glenn Carlson, of Fair Wisconsin. "So you couldn't vote separately on whether you thought civil unions were okay. You had to vote on the whole thing as one package. And that's really two questions."

Supporters of the ban disagree.

"They had almost three years to learn about that amendment and understand it," said Julaine Appling, of Wisconsin Family Council. "They heard people from both sides explain what it did do, what it doesn't do. They knew when they voted in November 2006. It was dealing with not just the word 'marriage,' but the institution of marriage."

The state supreme court is getting the paperwork in order -- there's no set date for the case to begin.

Experts expect a ruling sometime before the end of the year.

Forty-two states prohibit gay marriage -- 29 of them because of constitutional amendments.

E-mail Jeff Angileri -- jangileri@wkowtv.com


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