Four same-sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union sued Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and other state top administration officials on Monday, challenging Wisconsin’s seven-year-old ban on gay marriage.
In addition to attempting to overturn the state’s constitutional amendment barring marriage equality, the lawsuit also seeks to repeal Wisconsin’s "marriage evasion" law, which criminalizes leaving the state to “contract a marriage that is prohibited or void” in Wisconsin. Couples violating the marriage evasion statute can be fined up to “$10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 9 months or both.”
“Wisconsin is unique in that sense, and so we think that argument particularly exemplifies the harm or the animus toward same-sex couples in some parts of the country,” John Knight, director of ACLU's LGBT and AIDS Project, told the Washington Blade on Monday.
The couples in the lawsuit are Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson; Judith Trampf and Katharina Heyning; and Virginia Wolf and Carol Schumacher, the lead plaintiffs in the case.
Virginia Wolf et al. v. Scott Walker et al., which was filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Mayer Brown LLP, argues that Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban violates the couples’ due process and equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.
“Wisconsin, a historic leader in marriage equality, maintains one of the most restrictive bans on marriage for same-sex couples in the nation,” the lawsuit reads. “The State deprives same-sex couples of these rights and freedoms for no other reason than their sexual orientation and their sex.”
“We’re completely in love, and we’d like to be married in the state that we live in,” Kemp, one of the plaintiffs, told the Washington Blade on Monday. “I’m willing to go to the Supreme Court to fight for the right for everyone to be able to get married if that’s what they choose to do. It’s about marriage equality for all, not marriage equality for some, or for just us.”
The lawsuit is pending before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin while numerous states, including Kentucky, Utah, Florida and Virginia, are facing dozens of similar lawsuits seeking marriage equality.
Read the full complaint here.
(h/t Washington Blade)