[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion, PDF] Wisconsin's same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] ban. Article XIII, Section 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution [text], approved by voters in 2006, defines marriage as between one man and one woman and bars recognition of same-sex marriages that occur in other jurisdictions. The Wisconsin branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] challenging the ban in February. In Friday's ruling, Judge Barbara Crabb concluded:
It is well-established that "the Constitution protects persons, not groups," ... so regardless of possible future events affecting the larger community, my task under federal law is to decide the claims presented by the plaintiffs in this case now, applying the provisions in the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court in cases such as Loving, Romer, Lawrence and Windsor [opinions]. Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.Crabb did not stay her order, instead directing plaintiffs to submit a proposed injunction. Attorney General JB Van Hollen plans to appeal the ruling [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report].
There has been a flurry of litigation surrounding same-sex marriage since the US Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] last June. Also Friday same-sex couples challenged the same-sex marriage ban in North Dakota, the last US state whose ban had not been challenged in court. In May same-sex couples challenged Montana's same-sex marriage ban, and federal judges struck down bans in Oregon and Pennsylvania [JURIST reports].