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Wisconsin judge will not block marriage equality ban as legal challenge proceeds

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Wisconsin state sealA bit of brief but significant news out of Wisconsin, via the AP:

A federal judge has asked the American Civil Liberties Union to reconsider its request to temporarily block Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union wants U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to issue a temporary order nullifying the ban while she weighs the organization’s lawsuit challenging it.

Crabb said Tuesday a number of federal courts have stayed such temporary orders in similar gay marriage lawsuits. She said it would serve little purpose to issue an order just to stay it.

She said ACLU attorneys have until next Tuesday to file a brief persuading her that the injunction would be appropriate in light of the other cases and whether an expedited court schedule would serve the same purpose.

ACLU attorney John Knight the organization will file the brief by the deadline.

Earlier this month, we reported that the ACLU of Wisconsin and the national ACLU had filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on marriage equality and the penalties it levies on couples seeking to wed elsewhere.  Wisconsin is the only state with such penalties (called a ‘marriage evasion law’), which can include punishments of up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in prison.

Wisconsin currently allows same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships which provide limited legal rights.  The 2006 constitutional amendment which banned marriage equality in the state also banned any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”


  • 1. Rumsey  |  March 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

    IANAL, but I find it encouraging that the judge is looking at recent rulings in similar cases. Every case we win increases the chances that we will win the next one.

  • 2. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I can see the judge not putting a hold on the Wisc. ME ban (although I disagree with the ban) because judges are not that eager to put any law on hold until after a decision, but I can't see any justification for not putting a hold on the ‘marriage evasion law’.

    How many such prosecutions has WI had in the past 20 years (and for what reasons)? And even if the hold on the law is lifted at a later date (if it is, almost assuredly before the statute of limitations expires), WI should be able to prosecute anyone who 'violated' that law (unless the state is not very adept at keeping track of 'offenders'), or chooses not to prosecute until the statute of limitations has almost expired.

    If multiple other states also had such a 'ban', WI might have a defense. Since WI is the only state with such a 'ban', defending the law will be much, much more difficult. Wasn't the original reason for the law to prevent people 14 or 15 years of age, going to other states, getting married, then moving back to WI as married, when the WI minimum age for marriage was set at a much higher age? Currently 48 states (including WI) require a couple to be 18 to get married (NE is 19, MS is 21), but most states (including WI) allow people, with parental and/or a judge's permission, to get married at an earlier age.

  • 3. Eric  |  March 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I'm sorry, but the plaintiffs should not back down. The denial of a fundamental right for any amount of time is an irreparable harm. If the courts want to harm us, they can at least explain why the denial of the fundamental right to marry is permissible.

  • 4. Warren  |  March 6, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    After what happened in Utah, I believe every court issued a stay on the ruling. Sometimes, you have to give a little to get you want. I know, a Delay of Justice is a Denial of Justice.

  • 5. Fluffyskunk  |  March 11, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Could have sworn I already posted my comment here. I'm not surprised she refused to block the ban, because "Gay Means Stay". Disappointing but true. 🙁

  • 6. Equality On TrialUpdates &hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 12:36 am

    […] for an immediate preliminary injunction blocking the ban while the lawsuit proceeds, but the judge denied the request, suggesting that it might be better to go ahead with the merits of the case and get a quick […]

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