Dems Look To Reverse Wisconsin’s Constitutional Ban On Gay Marriage


Democratic state lawmakers want to repeal Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on gay marriage. The effort comes on the heels of a federal lawsuit to overturn the ban.

The ban was approved in a 2006 referendum by 59 percent of Wisconsin voters. State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) says attitudes have changed since then. A Marquette University poll last year showed 53 percent of those asked support same-sex marriage. Carpenter says support is often strongest among younger people.

“They get it. It’s a basic understanding, so times are a-changing,” he said. “We are on the right side of history.”

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The woman who helped pass the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage 8 years ago doesn’t see Republicans repealing it. Julaine Appling, executive director of Wisconsin Family Council, notes the legislative effort to undo the ban comes after a federal lawsuit on behalf of 4 same sex couples.

“I appreciate the fact that rather than run to the courts like the ACLU did on behalf of these eight individuals, that they have used that appropriate legislative process, Appling said. At the end of the day, the poll that really matters is if the people vote in their direction.”

The state does have a domestic partner registry. It was approved three years after the ban. Madison resident Donna Winter and her partner Liz Danebaum are domestic partners. Winter says they’d like to marry in Wisconsin.

“After all these years, how would you like to love someone and not be valued for your relationship when you pay taxes, you work, you do all the things everyone else does?” Winter said.

The marriage equality legislation is authored by two openly gay lawmakers, state Sen.Tim Carpenter and state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa.