Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Marriage Amendment in Technical Challenge

Posted by Chris Geidner
June 30, 2010 10:31 AM |

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion (pdf) released on Wednesday, June 30, upheld the validity of the state's constitutional amendment relating to marriage in a technical challenge that did not address equal protection or due process rights that are a part of most marriage restriction challenges.

The amendment, adopted by the voters in 2006, reads:

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.

The technical question about the two-sentence amendment was whether it violated the "separate amendment" rule of the state's constitution. As the court held today:

We hold that Article XIII, Section 13 of the Wisconsin  Constitution — the marriage amendment — was adopted in conformity  with the separate amendment rule in Article XII, Section 1 of  the Wisconsin Constitution, which mandates that voters must be  able to vote separately on separate amendments. Both sentences  of the marriage amendment relate to marriage and tend to effect  or 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 challenge was based solely on state constitutional grounds and no federal constitutional challenged was raised in the case, the matter cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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