The marriage equality winning streak hit the state of Wisconsin on Friday. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb overturned the state’s 2006 voter-approved ban on gay marriage, ruling the amendment to the state constitution as unconstitutional and a violation of the plaintiffs’ fundamental “right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws” under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The ruling was made in favor of eight couples who filed the lawsuit claiming that the state violates constitutional rights as well as deprives gay couples of the legal protections that heterosexual couples enjoy because of their gender. In an 88-page ruling, the judge agreed based on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Crabb stated, “Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.”
The ruling made Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law and the latest state where a gay marriage ban was struck down. It is not clear whether gay marriages can begin immediately as Crabb did not order an immediate block of the ban nor did she stay her ruling. She did, however, ask the gay couples who filed the lawsuit to describe what they wanted the judge to block as far as the enforcement of the law. The couples have till June 16 to file their responses.
While gay marriage supporters are celebrating the ruling, Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman, who is running for the U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District, voiced his disappointment over the ruling. He said, “It’s very sad that something approved by voters and represented as the law in every state for the first 200 years of the republic is all of a sudden declared unconstitutional. …This will further the complete lack of respect that the public has for the judiciary.”
An appeal of the decision is expected from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen with the backing of Governor Scott Walker. Van Hollen will appeal despite his expectations of losing the case due to the recent trends throughout the nation with similar lawsuits. He asked Crabb to block her own decision in anticipation. Although many courts have struck down gay marriage bans, no court has yet to rule on an appeal.