Press Room

June 11, 2014

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HRC to Walker and Van Hollen: End Wisconsin’s Defense of Discriminatory Marriage Ban

As state moves to officially recognize WI same-sex marriages, Van Hollen should stop defending constitutional ban in court

WASHINGTON – Today as news broke that the state of Wisconsin had begun processing the marriage licenses of gay and lesbian couples performed after a court struck the state’s marriage ban, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin called on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to end the state’s defense of a constitutional amendment that bars same-sex couples from marriage.  Earlier today the Wisconsin Vital Records Office began processing marriage licenses for gay couples after a meeting between representatives of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration and Van Hollen.

“Recognizing the legal marriages that have taken place thus far is absolutely the right thing to do, and we commend the state for this decision,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “Now the state should abandon any attempt to delay the inevitable, and withdraw its appeal of Judge Crabb’s ruling.”

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled against Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, making Wisconsin the twelfth state to see such a ban struck down in federal court since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage rulings last June.  Same-sex couples in dozens of counties across the state have since married, while Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen appeals the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  In Wisconsin, marriages become legal after a ceremony takes place and an officiant and witnesses sign the marriage license.

After the Judge Crabb’s ruling last week, the state Vital Records Office had been holding licenses but refused to process them.  Today, however, the Vital Records Office began processing the licenses following the meeting between Walker administration officials and the state attorney general. 

There are at least 70 court cases challenging discriminatory marriage bans across the country in 30 states and Puerto Rico.  So far five federal appeals courts are presiding over 10 marriage equality cases over the coming weeks and months. The Sixth Circuit holds the distinction of being the only federal appeals court to date that will consider marriage cases from all states within its jurisdiction.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic marriage rulings last year, no state marriage ban has survived a federal court challenge.   

Same-sex couples can legally marry in nineteen states and the District of Columbia, while 31 states have a law or constitutional amendment restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman.  

Learn more about this and other marriage equality cases at www.americansformarriageequality.org

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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