The Wisconsin branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] on Monday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Article XIII, Section 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution [text] defines marriage as between one man and one woman and bars recognition of same-sex marriages that occur in other jurisdictions. Additionally, Wisconsin's marriage evasion law [text] makes it a criminal offense to leave the state and enter a marriage contract that is prohibited under Wisconsin law. The lawsuit was filed on behalf four same-sex couples [ACLU profiles] in order to have the state of Wisconsin permit marriage for same-sex couples and recognize same-sex marriages that occur in other jurisdictions. The ACLU argues that Wisconsin's marriage laws violate the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the US Constitution and run counter to the US Supreme Court holding in US v. Windsor [JURIST report].
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been a highly polarizing issue in the American legal community. Numerous challenges to same-sex marriage bans have arisen before state and federal courts in recent months. Last week a federal judge certified a class action [JURIST report] lawsuit challenging Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage. Last month Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced [JURIST report] that he would not defend legal challenges to Virginia's same-sex marriage ban, which he believes is unconstitutional. Earlier in January six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Florida state court challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. That same day, the ACLU challenged [JURIST report] Utah's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed after a federal judge struck down [JURIST report] the state's same-sex marriage ban.