ACLU Seeks Preliminary Block on Wis. Gay Marriage Ban
Civil rights advocates have asked a federal judge to block Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban while their lawsuit challenging the prohibition winds its way through court, arguing same-sex couples could suffer harm if the ban remains in place.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Thursday with U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb seeking a preliminary injunction that would essentially nullify the ban until a final decision comes down. ACLU attorneys argued in a brief supporting the motion they deserve a preliminary injunction because keeping the ban in place impairs gay couples’ legal rights and exposes gay Wisconsin couples who married in other states to potential prosecution.
"As a result of this marriage ban, two people who love each other and wish to commit to each other and build a life and family together are prohibited from marrying in Wisconsin and denied recognition of their existing marriage entered legally under the laws of another jurisdiction ... if they are of the same sex," the brief said.
The state Department of Justice, which is controlled by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, is defending the ban. A spokeswoman said Friday the agency would respond in court. Crabb has set a hearing on the motion for March 27.
Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The state has offered a domestic partner registry that affords gay couples a host of legal rights since 2009 but its future is in doubt; the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court is currently weighing whether it violates the constitution.
Encouraged by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that found same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and a federal judge’s December decision to overturn conservative Utah’s gay marriage ban, the ACLU filed its Wisconsin lawsuit on Feb. 3 on behalf of a group of same-sex couples.