Understanding Wisconsin’s marriage ban.
On November 7, 2006, Wisconsin voters approved the following amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution:
“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”
The amendment prohibits marriage for gay and lesbian couples. It also prohibits civil unions or any “substantially similar” legal status that would grant all of the rights of marriage to gay couples or other unmarried couples. The full scope of the amendment will likely be determined over the course of many years by Wisconsin courts.
The amendment does not invalidate other legal protections, such as domestic partnership protections or LGBT inclusive employee benefit packages. Nevertheless, Wisconsin Family Action and the Alliance Defense Fund are attempting to strike down the domestic partnership registry. Read more about Fair Wisconsin’s legal defense of domestic partnerships. [link]
Challenging the Amendment.
On February 13, 2014, our two openly LGBT legislators, State Senator Tim Carpenter and State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, along with an impressive group of legislative allies, introduced the first effort to repeal our constitutional ban on marriage equality and civil unions.
Repeal requires two consecutive sessions of the legislature to pass the measure before sending the issue to voters via a statewide ballot referendum. From start to finish, this is a four to five year process. Only when our amendment is removed from the Wisconsin constitution can we pass legislation to grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry.
Repealing the constitutional ban on marriage equality and civil unions is definitely a priority for Fair Wisconsin. Since our 2006 amendment campaign, we have been implementing a highly successful strategy to achieve marriage equality. From our domestic partnership registry to local victories and now this repeal effort, we are committed to moving our state forward on marriage equality, as well as other issues of importance to the broader LGBT community.