Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Case Against Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Case Against Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

ere is a little something that has pretty much gone under the wire…. But something with a potential outcome that could spell some very far-reaching implications to Defense of Marriage amendments across the country.

Thursday, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court formally issued notice it intends to review the case of McConkey v. J.B. Van Hollen,…

This a case were a University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh professor William McConkey and father of a gay child, is challenging the legality of the 2006 referendum amendment to Wisconsin ’s constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions…. McConkey argues that amendment should be nullified because the two questions in the referendum should have been voted on separately.

McConkey’s case was dismissed last year by Dane County Judge Richard Niess, who said in his ruling those the issue is “two sides of the same coin.”

But McConkey appealed to the Wisconsin District 4 Court of Appeal, who in turn asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review the case, saying, “The validity of the marriage amendment is a matter of significant public interest with statewide implications.”

A win in the Wisconsin Supreme Court would not legalize gay marriage in Wisconsin, as the state would still define marriage as a heterosexual union, but it would allow gay and lesbian couples who have been denied a marriage license the right to file lawsuits in Wisconsin to change that.

In 2006, almost 60% of Wisconsinites approved that states amendment. But less than three years later, recent polls indicate that percentage would be significantly lower now. Only 55% of people in a nationwide poll conducted by Quinnipiac University said they were opposed to gay marriage last month. And 57% said they favored allowing gay couples to form civil unions that would provide marriage-like rights.

Until recently, other states that have allowed marriage equality have done so only because of judges have forced the issue, but that is also no longer the case.

People everywhere are beginning to recognize that those who are gay didn’t choose to be gay… We were just created this way. They see it wasn’t an orientation we decided to choose and they understand that there are people out there who just happen to be gay.

Legislatures in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have also recognize this and not wanting to be on the wrong side of history, have recently voted in favor of marriage equality in those states. In light of these attitude changes, and the current political climate it is very doubtful marriage equality opponents in Wisconsin could even this same amendment though the Wisconsin legislature today.

A win in the Wisconsin Supreme Court will give marriage equality supporters elsewhere a model to begin taking on similarly written Defense of Marriage amendments in other states, making this a very important court case indeed.

The decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected sometime in fall or winter of 2009.

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