Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, Question 1 (2006)

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The Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, also known as Question 1, was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the November 7, 2006 general election ballot in Wisconsin, where it was approved. The amendment created Section 13 of Article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution to define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman. On June 6, 2014, Question one was overturned by District Court Judge Barbara Crabb.


See also: Other lawsuits against Question 1

In February 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging this constitutional amendment. The lead plaintiffs were Virginia Wolf and Carol Schumacher, who were married in Minnesota. The lawsuit alleged that the ban on same-sex marriage violated due process protections by limiting the right to marry and equal protection based on sexual orientation and gender discrimination.[1] The case was heard in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin by Judge Barbara Crabb.[2]

On June 6, 2014, Judge Crabb ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and overturned the ban put in place by Question 1.[3] In her opinion, Judge Crabb refuted the state's argument regarding the history of "traditional marriages," saying,

As an initial matter, defendants and amici have overstated their argument. Throughout history, the most 'traditional' form of marriage has not been between one man and one woman, but between one man and multiple women, which presumably is not a tradition that defendants and amici would like to continue.[4][5]

—Judge Barbara Crabb

Judge Crabb refused a state request made by Attorney General of Wisconsin J.B. Van Hollen to halt marriages from taking place until after an appeal is heard on June 10, 2014.[6]

On September 4, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals declared the marriage ban unconstitutional. The three-judge panel unanimously voted to uphold lower court decisions that reversed marriage restrictions. The decision was stayed, pending action by the United States Supreme Court, as state officials appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.[7]

United States Supreme Court

On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case, thus allowing the ruling of the Seventh Circuit Court to stand and legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin.[8]

Election results

Wisconsin Question 1 (2006)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Wolf and Schumacher et. al. v. Walker et. al. 14-cv-64-bbc
Yes 1,264,310 59.4%

Official results via: The Wisconsin Blue Book 2007-2008

Text of measure

The ballot question read:

Marriage. Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?"[9][5]

Constitutional changes

Article XIII, §13
Marriage. Section 13. Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.[10]

Official summary

Under present Wisconsin law, only a marriage between a husband and a wife is recognized as valid in this state. A husband is commonly defined as a man who is married to a woman, and a wife is commonly defined as a woman who is married to a man.

A "yes" vote would make the existing restriction on marriage as a union between a man and a woman part of the state constitution, and would prohibit any recognition of the validity of a marriage between persons other than one man and one woman.

A "yes" vote would also prohibit recognition of any legal status which is identical or substantially similar to marriage for unmarried persons of either the same sex or different sexes. The constitution would not further specify what is, or what is not, a legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage. Whether any particular type of domestic relationship, partnership or agreement between unmarried persons would be prohibited by this amendment would be left to further legislative or judicial determination.

Campaign contribitions

Donors to the campaign for the measure:[11]

  • Vote Yes for Marriage: $627,227
  • Focus on Family Marriage Amedment: $35,134
  • Highland Community Church: $2,697
  • Marriage Amendment Committee: $2,140
  • Marriage is 1 Man and 1 Woman: $1,584
  • Marinette/Oconto Co Churches: $400
  • WI Catholic Conf-AFFM Marriage: $69
  • Total: $669,251

Donors to the campaign against the measure:

  • Fair Wisconsin: $4,285,746
  • Good For Wisconsin: $12,535
  • ACLU of Wisconsin Against the Ban: $7,033
  • Catholic Families Basic Rights:$3,950
  • Attorneys Against the Ban: $1,849
  • Wisconsin Coalition Against Sex Assault: $1,173
  • Wisconsin Coalition Against Sex Assault: $916
  • UW Oshkosh Coalition Against AMD: $292
  • Total: $4,313,493
  • Overall Total: $4,982,745


A variety of lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the victory of Question One.

  • In 2009, Wisconsin Family Action and others who supported Question One filed a lawsuit against the State of Wisconsin to prevent it from implementing a domestic-partnership registry.[12] According to Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, "Elected officials should never pass laws that violate the will of Wisconsin voters who legitimately amended the state constitution in a fair election. This new domestic-partnership scheme is a sneaky assault on marriage from those who are determined to redefine marriage in Wisconsin."[12] This lawsuit was brought directly to the state Supreme Court and was dismissed in November 2009.
  • In August 2010, Wisconsin Family Action and others filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court on the same basis.[13]

Path to the ballot

First approval: 2003 AJR 66 (JR 29) Second approval: 2005 SJR 53 (JR 30)[10]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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External links