This afternoon U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crab overturned Wisconsin’s ban on marriages by gay and lesbian couples. The ban, which was approved by voters in 2006, is now opposed by the majority of Wisconsin voters. A recent Marquette University Law School poll found 55 percent of registered voters statewide now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 37 percent oppose it and 6 percent say they do not know.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen acknowledged last month that he would not be surprised to lose the case. He had asked the judge to immediately stay her own decision if she ruled to invalidate the ban. The report notes that normally, lawyers wait until a judge rules before asking for a stay. The state was given until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction of the ruling.
The Journal Sentinel also reports that clerks in Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha and other counties say they were prepared for the ruling and for an expected stream of gay couples coming in to obtain marriage licenses.
In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to enact a gay rights law, banning discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday also refused to block marriages of same-sex couples in Oregon.