Legislators Hope to Repeal Wisconsin's Ban on Same Sex Marriage

Feb 14, 2014

Democrats in the Legislature are proposing a repeal of Wisconsin's same sex marriage ban.
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A few years ago, Wisconsin voters banned same sex marriage. Now an effort to undo that decision is taking shape.

In 2006, Wisconsin adopted a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Two consecutive sessions of the Legislature approved the ban, so did voters.

Now Democratic Assemblywoman JoCasta Zamarripa wants to repeat the process, but this time, to repeal the prohibition. Zamarripa says she recalls the day Wisconsin voters adopted the ban.

“I still remember crying myself to sleep that night and promising myself that I would always continue to advocate for marriage equality for our LGBT Wisconsinites, because we deserve to enjoy the right and benefit of marriage just like our straight allies do,” Zamarripa says.

Zamarripa stood with members of the gay community and fellow Democrats at a news conference Thursday. Sen. Tim Carpenter says the time is right to repeal the ban.

“We’re here on the side of history. This issue is moving very quickly. The Supreme Court case on June 26 of last year was very important, a great case that said people have a right to get married,” Carpenter says.

Carpenter also cited a recent Marquette Law School poll. It indicates that 53 percent of state residents support same sex marriage. Julaine Appling represents the group Wisconsin Family Action. It lobbied heavily for the ban a decade ago, and she thinks voters would uphold it.

“I still believe at the end of the day Wisconsin citizens know the wonderful value that traditional one man-one woman marriage brings to our state. I would have confidence we would retain the amendment we currently have that protects the definition of, and the institution of marriage,” Appling says.

Appling doesn’t think the bill is going anywhere, even though supporters are pushing for a hearing before the Legislature adjourns in April. Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman doubts lawmakers will consider the measure.

“We’re getting near the end of the session and there’s so many important things related to jobs yet to go, that I would be shocked if we had a committee hearing on this,” Grothman says.

Grothman supported the ban in 2006. He points out that even though some states have legalized same sex marriage in recent times, the majority still don’t recognize it.