The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled
Wednesday that the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage is
valid, the AP reported.
In a 7-0 ruling certain to disappoint
gay rights advocates, the court disagreed with the argument that the
ban – approved by 60% of voters in 2006 – was not valid because
the referendum illegally asked voters to decide on two subjects
The question asked voters to decide
whether marriage should be limited to a heterosexual union and
whether to outlaw any “legal status identical or substantially
similar” to marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
In writing the ruling for the majority,
Justice Michael Gableman said the amendment is valid because both
parts of the question “carry out the same general purpose of
preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only
one man and one woman.”
William McConkey, a University of
Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science professor, filed the lawsuit.
Plaintiffs appealed their case to the
District 4 Court of Appeals after being dismissed by a lower court.
The appeals court asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review the
case, saying “the validity of the marriage amendment is a matter of
significant public interest with statewide implications.”
In defending the amendment, Wisconsin
Attorney General John Byron “J.B.” Van Hollen called it the “will
of the people.”
Van Hollen, a Republican who is eyeing
a 2010 run for governor, stirred controversy last year when he
declined to defend the state's gay-inclusive domestic partnership
registry, calling it unconstitutional. Social conservatives have
mounted a legal challenge to the law that gives gay and lesbian
couples access to 43 rights, most of which center around estate
planning and hospital visitation issues.