More states fight marriage discrimination

Oregon officials notified a federal court Feb. 20 that the state will no longer defend a ban on same-sex marriage. Similar switches in Nevada and Virginia were announced recently.

Pennsylvania is still officially defending its ban, but some officials see it as unconstitutional.

The Oregon filing came in one of two consolidated cases challenging the 2004 voter-approved ban that passed by 57% to 43%. reported 17 states and Washington, D.C., now allow same-sex marriage. Federal judges have struck down bans in Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia, but those rulings are on hold pending appeals.

A lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker, was filed Feb. 3 in U.S. District Court in Madison by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the law firm Mayer Brown on behalf of four same-sex couples from Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Madison.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, ACLU of Wisconsin legal director.

The suit also seeks a permanent injunction to block a state law that makes it a criminal offense for a Wisconsin resident to leave the state to obtain a marriage that would be prohibited in Wisconsin. Maximum punishment is nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Also in Wisconsin, Democrats have introduced a bill to repeal the state’s constitutional gay marriage ban. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told WISN that he doesn’t expect it to even get a hearing.

“Unfortunately, I think at the end of the session, people are doing this much more based on a political answer than trying to find anything else,” Vos said.

Wisconsin Family Action, a socially conservative evangelical group, is vigorously lobbying against the bill as an assault on “religious freedom.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation