Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WI Supreme Court Arguments on Marriage Equality - A PFLAG RD's story

Our guest post today comes to us from Kay Heggestad, regional director for the Great Plains region and past president of the Madison, WI chapter.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McConkey v. Van Hollen, a case regarding the legality of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment which states that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state AND a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

Wisconsin statute states that two different ideas being placed in the same amendment. Lester Pines, the attorney representing Mr. Bill McConkey, argued that the two statements of the amendment were different and thus Wisconsin voters might have voted "yes" to the ban on same sex marriage but might have voted "no" on the ban against allowing legal rights that might be similar to marriage, e.g. civil unions or domestic partnerships. Mr. Bill McConkey, is a professor residing in Oshkosh professor and he filed the lawsuit in 2007.

Several members of PFLAG attended the hearing. One of the younger attendees tried to hold up a small sign saying, "Gay Marriage Now", but was not allowed to display it. The proceedings lasted about 90 minutes with the justices asking pertinent questions. Click here to watch the hearing. The justices will deliberate and hand down a decision in a future time, most likely in the spring of 2010. If they decide in favor of Mr. McConkey, then the amendment will be struck down. Same sex marriage would still not be legal in Wisconsin but the door would be open for legislators to introduce legislation that will allow same sex couples to marry.

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