Same-sex marriage ban challenged in Wisconsin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Same-sex marriage ban challenged in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Last week, four same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit in Madison, challenging Wisconsin's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Christopher Krimmer, a family law attorney, says the constitutional amendment says Wisconsin will not recognize same-sex marriage, or any relationship substantially similar to marriage. The ACLU lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of that ban, as well as the Marriage Evasion Statute.

"It's a statute from back in the early 1900's that says if you leave the state of Wisconsin to contract into a marriage that is void in our state, you can be punished criminally, up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine," Krimmer said.

Attorneys for the ACLU say Wisconsin's ban violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Krimmer said the argument is whether or not the right to marriage is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. constitution.

"If it is, then you have to have a compelling state interest of why you're denying to gay and lesbian individuals," Krimmer said. "As many of the court have addressed that issue have not been able to identify a compelling state interest."

Back in 2006, 59 percent of voters approved of the same-sex marriage ban in a statewide referendum. Gov. Scott Walker said he has not seen significant movement on the issue, and supporters of the ban say voters have already voiced their opinion on this issue and that should be respected.

Krimmer disagrees, saying he thinks society has changed significantly since 2006.

"In fact, Marquette Law School did a poll of that state last year and found that 53 percent of the residents are in favor of same-sex marriage," Krimmer said.

Krimmer thinks this ban has a good chance of being ruled unconstitutional.

"I believe that when Oklahoma, Ohio, and Utah can decide this kind of case and find that it is unconstitutional to deny the right to marriage to gay and lesbians, I think that it's very possible Wisconsin can follow," Krimmer said

Krimmer joined us on 27 News at 5 to talk about the lawsuit and what it all means.
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