A lawsuit filed in federal court Monday seeks the removal of Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Four couples named in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the state argue the ban violates the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and doesn't serve any compelling or legitimate government interest.
One of the couples named in the lawsuit lives in Madison.
The lawsuit states Judith Trampf and Katharina Heyning have been together 24 years and want to marry in Wisconsin. Both work at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The couple included a story in the lawsuit of an occasion when they were on a trip and Heyning had a medical emergency and was unconscious. They said Trampf was unable to direct Heyning's care.
A domestic partnership law was passed in 2009, but the lawsuit states the law is facing a legal challenge and is not a substitute for marriage.
The ACLU said the couples allege the state’s constitutional marriage ban, "sends a message that lesbians, gay men and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage."
Julaine Appling, president of the Wisconsin Family Council, said she is confident the Wisconsin law will be upheld by the courts.
“We took great pains with the wording of our amendment to put a strong amendment in place in 2006, so we think we are still well positioned. You know no one can stop other people from filing a law suit. This is America,” Appling said.
Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia.
“The climate in this country, I think people are starting to recognize that we are achieving the point at which a majority are starting to see this is the right thing to do and we feel that Wisconsin should be part of that conversation,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.
The lawsuit names Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen as defendants. Spokespeople for both Walker and Van Hollen didn't immediately return messages.