Wisconsin Upholds Gay Marriage Ban, Despite All Those Hippies in Madison

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled today in a case challenging a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state. The court upheld the ban 7-0. The amendment was approved by 59% voters in 2006:

“The court rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single subject. The lawsuit, filed by a voter opposed to the amendment, argued that gay marriage and civil unions were two different subjects.”

So this could possibly mean that this just wasn’t the best way to oppose the ban, right? Like someone should maybe file another lawsuit more like Prop 8’s about how it’s fundamentally fucking unconstitutional, etc.?

The amendment defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and it also limited the amount of benefits that could be given to unmarried couples. So even though Wisconsin allows domestic partnerships, couples with those only get “about one-fifth of the benefits that married couples now receive.”

Also last week, a Wisconsin court ruled that “gay parents who separate from their partners don’t have the right to be their children’s guardian.” Wisconsin law says you can’t be recognized as a parent of an adopted child unless you’re married. But you know, you also can’t get married if you’re gay in Wisconsin. So, that’s convenient! Gay adoption is effectively illegal there, and it looks like that won’t change for a while.

Wisconsin State Representative Tammy Baldwin is a lesbian and also isn’t happy about this:

“Like many Wisconsinites, I am disappointed in the substantive effect of today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in the case of McConkey v. J.B. Van Hollen, et al. The ballot initiative that spurred this case was more a matter of politics than principle.

Regrettably, Wisconsinites, including many LGBT families, must live with a state constitution that enshrines discrimination.

While the effect of this ruling is a setback in our effort to repeal the discriminatory constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions, we will continue our quest for equality.”

Some groups say this is not the end, though. From the president of the People for the American Way:

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s delivers a setback to the Wisconsin citizens who have been denied the right to marry, but it’s far from the final word on the subject. The Court rejected a challenge to the state’s marriage ban based on a narrow technicality, not a substantive challenge to its harmful content. I look forward to seeing further legal challenges to this ban, and hope that very soon all Wisconsin citizens will be free to enjoy the protections and responsibilities of marriage.”

Fun fact: Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Republican party! But actually Republicans weren’t always synonymous with “Christian Conservatives” so that’s not a bad thing don’t worry.

Fun fact #2: Wisconsin’s Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State are all Democrats. Wisconsin has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in the last six elections and voted for Obama. Howevs, Wisconsin is a major swing state, narrowly going Dem in 2000 and 2004.

Also, have you ever been to University of Wisconsin-Madison for Halloween? That shit gets wild! (Also they have a really gay-friendly campus and an LGBT Studies program).

This is quite a shame because Wisconsin is really pretty and it makes such excellent cheese. But you know who else makes excellent cheese? Vermont. Yeah.

look at those dells!

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Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 127 articles for us.


  1. As a Wisconsinite, this, along with the fact that no one can say Wisconsin right and the fact that we only have two seasons, Freaking Cold and Road Construction makes me want to move. Maybe to Vermont so I can still have my cheese…

      • Well people have a tendency to say WEHsconsin instead of WIsconsin. It’s a pet peeve that many of us here share.

        • They also say Wis-con-sin, rather than Wi-sconsin, which always drives me nuts.

          Also, I haven’t checked the comments section yet, but are people more up in arms about the Vermont cheese comment than the gay marriage ban? Because we are seriously touchy about that shit, and we do not fuck around when it comes to our cheese.


    *runs to corner, sobbing*

    Ahem, anyway – I’m also a proud Wisconsinite and a queer lady, so this news was a huge bummer for me. And, frankly, a lot of other people in the state.

    We ain’t a perfect place by any means, not even my beloved Madison, but I hope people on the outside looking in know that, despite the currently effed up legal situation for LGBT people, there are a vast number of really decent folks living here, many of whom are actively trying to change things for the better.

    Also our cheese rules. Harumph.

  3. every time i read another report like this, i thank the stars again that i am british and not american.

    • Granted Americans have it a billion times worse. But we’re far from equality in the UK! The whole “the same, but different” scenario. If Civil Partnerships are supposedly equal to marriage, why can’t we just call it marriage!?

      As Orwell so eloquently put it “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

      The governement is all for criticizing countries that don’t recognise British Civil Partnerships, but if they’d just call it marriage it would be a whooooole lot easier!!!!!!

      • They aren’t equal though. The whole name thing means its seen totally differently. And there are a lot of tiny differences that mean us gays can get civil partnerised very quietly without having a verbal part of the ceremony or having to announce it first. You know, for our own protection. Not to keep it all hush-hush, nope.

        Seeing this article does make me thankful for what we have, though, adoption laws and such are especially good. Like, not allowing people who aren’t married to adopt? Seriously? What is the logic behind that other than deny-the-gays? Maybe it is better for a kid to be adopted by a loving married family than, say, an older single woman, but surely its 90859457340958743859023x better for them to be adopted than not adopted at all. Rah.

  4. Ok not to get all legal on your asses but does Wisconsin recognize marriages from other states like Massachusetts or Iowa? I am just curious.

    • Sadly not. Though, as far as I know, only three states currently do: Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland.

      • And New Mexico…but we try to keep that on the DL so that the homophobes in the southern part of the state don’t flip their shit.

  5. This was the right decision. Voters should definitely have a say in the possible re-definition of marriage.

    • Why? Why should the voters get to decide on a matter that doesn’t directly affect them, and likely never will? It’s never right to allow a majority to vote on the rights on a minority, that’s why we have a constitution to protect our citizens.

    • That would be a great theory, except that human rights are not subject to a majority vote, and the constitution is specifically set up to avoid that sort of mob rule.

      • Oh, didn’t see Elizabeth’s before I posted mine. Twice the rightness at no extra cost.

  6. Voters have no right to force their prejuidices on a minority.Gays & lesbians have been recognized as a protected class,any laws affecting them therefore receive strict scrutiny – something to remember when Prop 8 reaches the court. Marriage equality will be the law of the land & in the meantime fuck WI & the other gay unfriendly states.Canada makes some mighty tasty cheese,too.

    • They did just elect an anarchist punk comedian as their mayor. Call me crazy, but I like the sound of that.

  7. This may sound crazy, but at least your country gives a shit about the LGBT community. In Australia, no one cares unless it’s Mardi Gras time or a politician says something, which is never positive. And what equal rights thing we’ve got going on, no one cares, and the media never report it, so no one knows.

    So yeah, America is full of homophobes, but at least they realise you exist. At least they don’t ignore you.

    • I got invited to that gay marriage rally in Melbourne on May 15th and I was well excited & going to go, but we were leaving for Vietnam the next day and it would have cost $400 to change our flights. I shall remain gutted about that for quite some time. Did it get any media coverage?

      • No. Seriously, I scoured the news channels, the newspapers, the radio. Nothing. The only people that cared were the gays. I was just a liiiiitle pissed off.

        There’s a rally on August 14th in Sydney that I’m going to. There might be one in Melbourne on the same day. We need to make Australians care! Maybe instead of dancing around in our underpants we should protest? Idk.

  8. This is embarrassing. We’re supposed to be a progressive state! Federal gov’t has to step in here; this is a civil rights issue, not something to be voted on.

  9. Now I wanna go to madison for college… But all the uber catholics in my family live there. DAMN YOU DECISIONS!!

Comments are closed.