SCOTUS Ushers In Marriage Equality in Wisconsin


Marriage equality became the law of the Land of 10,000 Lakes last year as a result of a bill passed by the DFL-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.

In the Land of Cheese and Beer, on the other hand, it came from the U.S. Supreme Court's chambers in Washington, D.C., where earlier this week justices decided not to consider any of a number of cases challenging lower court decisions that struck down bans on same-sex marriage in individual states, including Wisconsin.

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While in theory SCOTUS's decision isn't final -- the nation's highest court could still weigh in on the legality of a same-sex marriage ban in a particular state down the line -- a number of legal analysts, including constitutional law professor and Atlantic contributor Garrett Epps, interpret the court's decision as a de facto legalization of marriage equality.

"One thing... I will not believe is that this Court will allow thousands of couples nationwide to celebrate marriages, change names, jointly adopt children, become legally one family -- and then, in an opinion later in the term, baldly announce that their marriages are in jeopardy or even void," Epps writes. "If the justices were later to decide against same-sex marriages, a number of the states where, in a few days, it will be legal, would be back at the Court asking for reconsideration... it would be an act of cruelty that I hope is beyond any five of the nine human beings who sit on this Court."

After SCOTUS's decision was announced, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker conceded defeat on the issue. (He did as much last year in response to nationwide polling showing that 51 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 support marriage equality at the state level.)

"For us, it's over in Wisconsin," Walker said, according to the AP. "The federal courts have ruled that this decision by this court of appeals decision is the law of the land and we will be upholding it."

Same-sex marriage has been prohibited by Wisconsin's constitution since 2006, when 59 percent of voters ratified a constitutional amendment barring gays from tying the knot. But in the wake of SCOTUS's decision and Walker's acquiescence to it, that's just another tidbit in the dustbin of history now.

Sure, Walker's comments aren't as dramatic as the marriage equality bill signing ceremony starring Governor Dayton that took place nearly 17 months ago, but thanks to SCOTUS, they have roughly the same impact.

In other words, for better or worse, gay Wisconsinites no longer have as much incentive to travel to Minnesota in search of a better life.

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.