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Couple files lawsuit urging Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down state's same-sex marriage ban

[JURIST] A same-sex couple filed a lawsuit [text, PDF] on Wednesday with the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] seeking to strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The Wisconsin Constitution was amended in 2006 to include Article XIII, section 13 [text, PDF] which states that, "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state." The couple, Katherine and Linda Halopka-Ivery, filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court, contending that original jurisdiction with the Supreme Court is proper because it is a matter of "great public interest involving the power of the State of Wisconsin, the conduct of its high officials, and the welfare and dignity of its citizens who enter same-sex marriages." The couple, who were married in California in December could face criminal charges under the state's so-called "marriage evasion" law [text] which imposes penalties of up to nine months in jail and $10,000 fines on couples who obtain a marriage outside Wisconsin specifically prohibited under Wisconsin law. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen [official website] said he will defend [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report] the same-sex marriage ban. A federal lawsuit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban is currently pending [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website].

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most hotly debated topics in the legal community today. Earlier this month Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring [official website] filed an appellate brief [JURIST report] in support of a district court's ruling that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Also in April a federal judge granted an emergency request [JURIST report] to force Indiana to recognize an out-of-state same-sex marriage on a death certificate. One day earlier the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriages. Earlier this month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] vowed [JURIST report] to overturn the state's ban on recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages.

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