Four same-sex couples in Wisconsin filed this federal lawsuit on Feb. 3, 2014, challenging Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional amendment that barred same-sex marriage, and a "marriage evasion law" prohibiting couples - gay and straight - from going elsewhere to marry if the marriage would be prohibited ...
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Four same-sex couples in Wisconsin filed this federal lawsuit on Feb. 3, 2014, challenging Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional amendment that barred same-sex marriage, and a "marriage evasion law" prohibiting couples - gay and straight - from going elsewhere to marry if the marriage would be prohibited in the state. (Penalties for violating this law, which is apparently unique to Wisconsin, include up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in prison.) Represented by the ACLU LGBT Project, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the Chicago firm Mayer Brown, plaintiffs filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Like other similar lawsuits, the complaint alleged the state's ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection and due process under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs consisted of three same-sex couples who wished to be married in Wisconsin and one same-sex couple who asked the state of Wisconsin to recognize their marriage that was formalized in another state. The plaintiffs asked that the Court declare that any Wisconsin laws that ban same-sex marriage are in violation of the United States Constitution, permanently enjoin the defendants from enforcing laws that ban same-sex marriage, recognize the marriage of same-sex couples already legally married in other states, and award the plaintiffs costs and expenses as well as attorneys' fees.
On June 6, 2014 the District Court (District Judge Barbara B. Crabb) granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs. Judge Crabb declared the laws that prohibited same-sex marriages in Wisconsin to be unconstitutional; she asked both the plaintiffs and the defendants to submit a proposed injunction that complies with the contents of the order. The defendants filed an Emergency Motion for Temporary Stay of the order on the same day that the order was signed, seeking clarification of the order's scope. This was granted, and a hearing was held on June 9, 2014. At that point, the motion to stay was denied by the district court.
County clerks around Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and in some cases performing marriage ceremonies for them. However, on June 13, Judge Crabb stayed enforcement of her decision. She explained that a stay entered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Herbert v. Kitchen compelled her to do so.
On July 10, the state appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals; the Court of Appeals combined the case for briefing and oral argument with a similar Indiana case, Baskin v. Bogan. On September 4, the Seventh Circuit, in a unanimous opinion authored by Judge Richard Posner, and joined by Judges Williams and Hamilton, found in favor of the plaintiffs and affirmed the district court's judgments invalidating and enjoining these two states' prohibitions of same-sex marriage. The opinion primarily addressed the question of equal protection and said that the states of Indiana and Wisconsin have no rational basis behind the prohibition of same-sex marriage. The Court also suggested that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has all the hallmarks of a 'suspect class'. Megan Dolan - 09/11/2014