Recent rulings place state’s same-sex marriage ban in doubt

Attorney General Van Hollen acknowledges law may be struck down by federal judge
Recent rulings place state’s same-sex marriage ban in doubt
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

The man charged with defending the legal challenge to Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen acknowledges the law may likely be struck down by a federal judge.

“Oh certainly there are concerns. Obviously when you have so many federal judges across the nation relying on the same Supreme Court decisions to strike down laws similar to the constitutional amendment that we have here in Wisconsin there are concerns that we will not prevail as well,” Van Hollen said.

“The challenge always is judges feel safety in numbers. If you’ve had judges who’ve ruled both ways or very few cases it can go either way, but judges are going to necessarily rely upon the ruling to some degree of other judges,” Van Hollen said.

Federal judges struck down similar state laws banning same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania and Oregon. Neither state plans to appeal those rulings and same-sex couples in those states have started applying for marriage licenses.

“It is amazing the pace of change in public opinion and the reality is we’ve had so many decisions recently and we just have not seen a negative reaction, in fact the reaction has been quite positive to the those decisions,” says John Knight, an attorney for the ACLU. The ACLU is handling the legal challenge to Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban.

Julaine Appling, the president of Wisconsin Family Action, believes the law should be upheld.

“I am disappointed that activist judges have taken it upon themselves to overturn the will of the people,” Appling said. “It is no longer ‘We, the people.’ It is, ‘I, the judge.'”

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Seven additional states, Arkansas, Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas and Michigan have had their laws banning same-sex marriage ruled unconstitutional, but those decisions have either been stayed or are awaiting appeals.

All of the legal briefs were filed earlier this week in the challenge to Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb could issue a summary ruling at any time. If she does not a trial has been set to begin on August 25.

Van Hollen says if Wisconsin’s law is ruled unconstitutional he will appeal the ruling.
“I think it is a disservice to the citizens if you don’t do the job you were elected to do,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen believes eventually the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.