Yesterday, the ACLU, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown amended their original complaint against Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage. In addition, a preliminary injunction was filed to prevent the state from enforcing the ban until the issue is decided in court.
Court cases of this nature can take years to reach conclusion. Katie Belanger, the executive director of Fair Wisconsin, points out that while the legislative route to marriage equality in Wisconsin would be difficult, litigation might not be quicker. Larry Dupuis, the legal director of the ACLU Wisconsin, disagrees. “We see courts around the country responding to the compelling need to treat same sex couples with equal dignity before the law,” he said in an email after the original complaint was filed Feb. 3. “ It is difficult to continue to ask loving, committed same-sex couples and families – many who have been together for decades and may be entering their twilight years – to keep waiting for the freedom to marry on equal terms with straight couples.
In the new complaint are four more same-sex couples – one of which got married in Canada and lived in California for years (where their marriage was legal) before moving to Wisconsin in 2012. The complaint contends that Keith Borden and Johannes Wallmann “have effectively had their existing marriage voided for purposes of Wisconsin law.” The state of Wisconsin treats their marriage as a “legal nullity,” the complaint says.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who’s served on the court since being nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, has set a hearing for March 27. (Interesting sidenote: Crabb attracted some attention last year when she ruled a tax exemption for clergy housing payments was unconstitutional.)
You can read about what the economic implications of marriage equality might be in our March 2014 issue. Check out some of the data here.