Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2006 referendum on gay marriage

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July 1, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

MADISON, Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court in a 7-0 decision, upheld a 2006 legislatively-referred constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The state's highest court rejected a legal challenge filed by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor William McConkey who argued that Question 1 violated the state's single subject rule. McConkey first filed suit in Dane County Circuit Court in 2007 claiming that gay marriage and civil unions were two different subjects presented in the actual ballot question. Also, McConkey has a lesbian daughter[1].

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen argued that because gay marriage and civil unions are closely related to one another, and did not violate the single subject rule. Van Hollen felt that the wording of the question was important to "preserve the unique status of marriage."Van Hollen also argued that McConkey had no legal standing to file suit claiming that he made a concession in a statement that he would vote no on both questions if the referendum was presented as two separate questions. Also, the Attorney General argued that McConkey would never been harmed if he would vote yes on one question and no on the other[1].

Associate Justice Michael Gableman wrote in the ruling that the actual ballot question as written: "carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman." Because the lawsuit dealt with the language of the ballot question, the state's ban on gay marriage would still be upheld regardless how the court ruled[1].

Question 1 was approved by Wisconsin voters with 59% of the vote[1].

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