August 07, 2014 Articles

Challenges to Same-Sex Marriage Bans Succeeding

By Mark T. Hamby

In a continuing trend in favor of challengers to same-sex marriage bans, Judge Barbara Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Crabb issued an 88-page opinion on June 6, 2014, holding that "plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple" and that "Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional." Wolf v. Walker, No. 3:14-cv-00064, 86 (W.D. Wis. June 6, 2014). Judge Crabb did not stay her decision pending an appeal. As a result, the court clerks in Milwaukee and Dane (Madison) Counties immediately began issuing marriage licenses with a majority of counties now following suit. The state filed an appeal and asked for a stay from the Seventh Circuit, which will determine whether it has jurisdiction over an appeal as a preliminary matter before it decides on whether to issue the stay.

On May 20, 2014, Judge John E Jones, III, of the District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, ruled in Whitewood v. Wolf, No. 1:13-cv-01861, 2014 WL 2058105 (M.D. Penn. May 20, 2014) that Pennsylvania's Domestic Relations Code limiting marriage to opposite sex couples, regardless of where they were married, violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court permanently enjoined enforcement of the laws. Judge Jones stated: "We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history." Marriage licenses are being issued to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now