Sen. Tammy Baldwin celebrates ruling against Wisconsin’s marriage ban

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) celebrated Monday a federal court’s decision striking down her state’s same-sex marriage ban, while accusing Republican Gov. Scott Walker of “defending discrimination in court and standing in the way of freedom.”

Photo: Tammy Baldwin. Credit: Official Senate portrait.

Photo: Tammy Baldwin. Credit: Official Senate portrait.

“Love is love, family is family, and discriminating against anyone’s love, against anyone’s family, is just plain wrong.  Wisconsin can proudly say that discrimination doesn’t just violate our values – it violates our Constitution,” Baldwin, the Senate’s first out member, said in a statement. “And now we can proudly say that marriage equality will be the law of the land in Wisconsin.”

In a decision handed down Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb found Wisconsin laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples “interfere with plaintiffs’ right to marry, in violation of the due process clause, and discriminate against plaintiffs on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the equal protection clause.”

According to Baldwin, Crabb’s ruling “reaffirms our founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law.”

“It’s about fairness – about whether gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated just like their family members, their friends, and their neighbors. It’s about opportunity – about whether every American gets to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success. And it’s about freedom – the freedom to love, the freedom to commit, the freedom to build a family,” Baldwin continued.

Shortly after Crabb’s ruling, some clerks in Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an emergency motion on behalf of Walker’s administration to halt such marriages, which is expected to be considered Monday.

“As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution. While today’s decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters,” Van Hollen said in a statement, adding that he anticipates the U.S. Supreme Court will give finality to this issue in their next term.

During an April 2013 interview with Metro Weekly, Baldwin predicted marriage equality would one day arrive in Wisconsin, but it wouldn’t be tomorrow. “I think Wisconsin will be a state where we see progress in future years, but it will be slow,” she said. In her statement Monday, Baldwin noted the unexpected momentum marriage equality has gathered since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 last June. Since then, federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Oregon and now Wisconsin.

“In Wisconsin, we believe that we owe it to the next generation to give them a Wisconsin that is more equal, not less equal, so I am disappointed that Governor Walker supports defending discrimination in court and standing in the way of freedom, fairness and equality for all Wisconsinites,” Baldwin said. “We believe that history only moves in one direction: Forward. It’s our state motto and this is a huge step forward for Wisconsin being a place where every family’s love and commitment can be recognized and respected under the law.”

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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