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Friday, Feb. 7, 2014

Issue of the Week: Let’s Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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A lot has happened since Wisconsin voters added a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution in 2006. Since then, same-sex marriage has been legalized in 17 states and the District of Columbia, and federal protections of same-sex marriage were achieved last year.

But Wisconsin’s same-sex partners can’t take advantage of those rights. Even worse, they risk prosecution if they get married in another state, thanks to Wisconsin’s marriage evasion law.

That’s why we welcome and support the federal lawsuit launched on Monday by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of four long-term, loving, same-sex couples in Wisconsin. The suit is a powerful indictment of the state’s constitutional ban, which prevents these committed couples from enjoying the same rights enjoyed by couples in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and elsewhere. The state’s limited domestic partnership registry—which is being challenged by the right-wing Wisconsin Family Action before the state Supreme Court—simply cannot provide the same benefits as a fully legal marriage.

This suit provides the best chance we have to overturn a constitutional amendment that Republican lawmakers cynically developed to drive up conservative turnout at the polls and one that the public no longer supports. According to an October 2013 Marquette University poll, 53% of Wisconsinites support marriage equality, up from 44% just one year prior. But it would take years of legislative action and yet another statewide referendum to remove this discriminatory ban from the state constitution.

We support this lawsuit and urge the courts to provide Wisconsin’s same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities enjoyed by committed couples around the country. The time to end the ban is now.

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