"This case is not about whether marriages between same-sex couples are consistent or inconsistent with the teachings of a particular religion, whether such marriages are moral or immoral or whether they are something that should be encouraged or discouraged." Crabb said in her ruling. "Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution."
Wisconsin voted to add a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight Wisconsin couples challenging the ban.
"It is DECLARED that art. XIII, § 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constiution," Crabb's ruling reads in part.
Judge Crabb went on to call marriage "a defining rite of passage and one of the most important events in the lives of millions of people, if not the most important for some."
Openly gay Representative Mark Pocan of Madison said, "The federal district court in Madison took another step toward ensuring full equality for every American. It is clear the growing momentum of support for marriage equality will put an end to discriminatory laws that treat LGBT couples as second-class citizens."
The current governor of Wisconsin, a Republican, has not commented, though his Democratic opponent Mary Burke said, "Today is a great day for Wisconsin and committed couples who love each other across the state. Every loving couple should have the freedom to marry whomever they choose, and the fact that this freedom is now available in Wisconsin is something we all can and should be proud of."
Wisconsin's current Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, also a Republican, decried the decision, promising to appeal Crabb's ruling.
"As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution," he said. "While today's decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. I will appeal."
Van Hollen's opponent in the next election, Democratic attorney general candidate Jon Richards, said, "I am overjoyed that our LGBT brothers and sisters will finally have the ability to marry in Wisconsin. Today is a joyous day for so many, and I am happy that all Wisconsin residents will be able to enjoy the right of marriage for the first time in our state's history."
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