WI same-sex marriage ban struck down

By Kris Schuller | kris.schuller@wearegreenbay.com

Published 06/06 2014 09:21PM

Updated 06/07 2014 11:40AM

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Wisconsin joined the growing number of states Friday where federal judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans.  The judge found the ban unconstitutional and went on to say that same-sex couples are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple. As you might expect the LGBT community is reacting strongly to this decision.

Voters in Wisconsin amended the Wisconsin Constitution in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage. Now the future of that law is in question.             

For Christine Smith and Julie Konik, the ruling by a U.S. District judge - that strikes down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage - is the natural progression of a changing culture in the country.

"Look at the states around us," said Smith. "Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa all have marriage equality - so it's about time Wisconsin did."

The law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight same-sex couples,   seeking freedom to marry in the state or to have their out of state marriages officially recognized.

Smith and Konik, who married in Canada in 2005, say for too long gay couples, have been denied the constitutional rights married couples enjoy, based on their gender.

"I love my partner dearly and the fact we can be recognized by the state is just incredible," Konik said.

"It is really solidifying the relationship and saying to everyone - we are a couple," Smith added.

Within hours of the ruling, same-sex couples in Milwaukee and Dane counties came to clerk's offices looking to file marriage licenses.

"All families deserve to be recognized and have the same legal protection to take care of each other," said Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin.

On the other side, Wisconsin Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, has vowed to appeal.  In a released statement, he said, "While today's decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters."

 It is a decision this couple calls unfortunate because on the issue of same-sex marriage, they are convinced the tide has turned in their favor.

 "The recent polling is that the majority of Wisconsinites support marriage equality, so he can be successful legally but it doesn't mean he's on the right side of history," said Smith.

 "As the demographic of voters' change - it inevitable there will be a move toward equality," Konik said.

 Late Friday afternoon J.B.Van Hollen filed a motion in U.S. District court - seeking an emergency stay on the ruling.

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