Lawmakers propose repeal of same-sex marriage ban

Amendment would have to pass 2 legislative sessions, public vote
Lawmakers propose repeal of same-sex marriage ban

A late-session bill rolled out at the Capitol Thursday would repeal Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage.

So far, the bill only has the support of Democrats, which gives it an unclear future, but those who believe in marriage equality say it’s still worth fighting for.

“After all these years, how would you like to love someone and not be valued for your relationship?” said Donna Winter, who has been with her partner for 16 years.

Winter and her partner, Liz Dannenbaum, joined lawmakers who have proposed a repeal of the state’s constitutional amendment saying marriage is between one man and one woman and prohibiting any other types of marriage.

“I want to let folks know that we are very serious about this, and are not going to quit until we have equality in marriage in Wisconsin,” said Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, who is also gay.

The amendment passed in 2006 with 59 percent of the vote. Proponents of the repeal say times have simply changed, and cite a Marquette poll from January saying 53 percent now support same-sex marriages.

“I think if we were to hold a referendum this year, I think absolutely we would strike down this ban in our state’s constitution,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, who is bisexual and a co-author on the bill.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, said the bill likely won’t get a hearing and questions the timing.

“Waiting to introduce it until one of the last days that we’re on the floor doesn’t seem to be about getting it passed, it seems more about making a political statement,” Vos said.

Winter and Dannebaum have a domestic partnership in Wisconsin and say while they could marry in other states, they want to wait until it’s legal in Wisconsin.

“The truth is, I don’t even understand at my age and watching what’s gone on in my life why so many people are worried about this,” Winter said. “It brings people together. It makes a family.”

Because it is a constitutional amendment, the bill would have to be passed in two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and then go to the public for a vote.