Laws 'don't necessarily translate into a fair and inclusive society for people. Earlier that day news broke that the U. Supreme Court had declined to take up seven same-sex marriage cases.
As a result, the appellate decisions that struck down marriage bans in five states were upheld, and gay couples can now legally wed in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. That makes 30 states where same-sex marriage is legal, with other challenges to bans pending around the country.
In Wisconsin, the issue of marriage equality has dominated the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists since the early s, when state legislators began working to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The group that would eventually become Fair Wisconsin, now the state's largest gay rights group, organized a grassroots effort to defeat the ban.
Belanger says that Monday's victory was huge and that people should take time to celebrate. But, she says, "As a movement we need to move beyond legal equality to making equality a lived reality for LGBT people. Laws do not necessarily make life safer for oppressed groups either. Fair Wisconsin is already working on this issue and has scored some significant victories of late. In September, the city of Cudahy unanimously passed a fully inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, joining Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton, which have similar protections.
Dane County and Milwaukee County also have transgender-inclusive policies. In ,Wisconsin was the first state to pass a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, but gender-identity bias is not banned. Belanger says other issues on the LGBT agenda include addressing health disparities , alcohol and substance abuse, and intimate partner violence.
She says the goal is to achieve transformational change in Wisconsin, "where all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their gender identity, regardless of who they are, are treated fairly, can live their lives safely and free from harm, and can thrive.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals notified U. District Judge Barbara Crabb Tuesday that her June 6 ruling, which found Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, was affirmed. Crabb followed up with a memo clarifying that the stay she had issued on her ruling, pending the state's appeal of the case, was lifted. Van Hollen said in a statement Monday that Wisconsin was obliged to comply with Crabb's decision. He noted that Crabb's order requires all state officials to "treat same-sex couples the same as different-sex couples in the context of processing a marriage license or determining the rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage.
They should have done so already; they haven't. Better yet, they should draw up a plan of compliance and submit it to the judge for approval. Larry Dupuis, an attorney with ACLU-Wisconsin, says the Department of Justice has declined to provide information on how the state would treat these marriages with respect to taxes, spousal benefits and adoptions, among other things.
As a result, his organization filed suit on Sept. Dupuis says there is no reason this lawsuit needs to proceed given the Supreme Court action Monday. Are they going to tell people to go back and get married again? That would be so mean-spirited.
What is not likely to happen, at least in the near term, is the repeal of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and any related statutory language. The process is a long one, and Republicans, who championed the marriage ban, remain in control in both houses of the Legislature and the governor's office.
Though the ban is now unenforceable, there is a danger to leaving these laws in place, acknowledges Dupuis. Supreme Court will do. Its decision this week shocked many legal observers, who were all but certain that the justices had little choice but to take on the politically charged issue. Howard Schweber, a constitutional law expert at UW-Madison, had even speculated in September that the conservative justices on the high court could not ignore the pointed challenge issued by Posner, considered one of the most respected conservative jurists in the country.
The court's decision not to bite, says Schweber, is surprising on a number of levels. Why those five justices did not insist the court take up the cases is an "interesting question," he adds, noting it's possible they did not want to put their more conservative colleagues on the spot.
The Supreme Court's non-action leaves a patchwork of laws across the country, a situation that will remain unless the court takes up a challenge to a same-sex marriage ban. The unresolved nature of the issue was not lost on the couples involved in the Wisconsin lawsuit. Trampf and her partner of 25 years, Katy Heyning, were on their way to work when they heard the news from the court.
They turned around, and, once home, Heyning proposed. They're now eager to get married, though they know from hosting a commitment ceremony and reception 10 years ago that finding an available venue in Madison is not easy. Plus, it has to have room to spare. Trampf says they'll likely have a small ceremony but a large party.