Wolf v. Walker

The Path to Victory:

On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied review of the 7th Circuit's ruling in favor of the freedom to marry. The decision means that the 7th Circuit ruling stands and same-sex couples will be free to marry in Wisconsin. 

Case Background:

On February 3, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Wisconsin. The lawsuit seeks to overturn a constitutional amendment passed in Wisconsin in 2006 limiting marriage to different-sex couples, as well as strike down a "marriage evasion law" that penalizes Wisconsin couples from marrying out of state. Since same-sex couples are not permitted to marry in the state of Wisconsin, this law leaves same-sex couples no option or way to legally marry and live in their home state.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking to marry in Wisconsin: Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson from Milwaukee; Virginia Wolf and Carol Schumacher in Eau Claire; Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann from Milwaukee; and Judith “Judi” Trampf and Katharina “Katy” Heyning in Madison.

In March 2014, the judge denied requests from the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit, instead setting a briefing schedule and trial date for the case.

In June, however, the judge ruled directly on the merits of the briefs, granting summary judgment in favor of the freedom to marry and making the trial unnecessary. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb overturned Wisconsin's discriminatory state ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Crabb did not stay her ruling, but also did not immediately issue an order blocking the enforcement of the order, leaving it unclear whether same-sex couples could immediately marry. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen appealed the decision.

Oral arguments were heard in the case by the U.S. Court of Appeals to the 7th Circuit on August 26, 2014. And on September 4, 2014, the 7th Circuit unanimously affirmed the freedom to marry in Wisconsin. The ruling is on hold pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Shortly after the 7th Circuit ruling, the state of Wisconsin appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court. 

On September 29, 2014, the United States Supreme Court had its first chance to consider hearing this case, and on October 6 it denied review.

Bloechl-Karlsen v. Walker

What's Happening:

On April 14, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses in Wisconsin following a federal judge's ruling in Wolf v. Walker declaring the marriage ban unconstitutional. Hundreds of couples received marriage licenses between June 6 and June 13. The ruling was stayed on June 13 (and is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court), and Governor Walker and the state Attorney General said that the state would, for now, deny respect to the licenses.

Case Background:

The lawsuit argues that because these same-sex couples legally married in Wisconsin, they are entitled to all of the protections of marriage, and that these protections cannot be taken away retroactively. 

The plaintiff couples include five families. Meet them here.

Halopka-Ivery v. Walker

What's Happening:

On April 16, 2014, private lawyers filed a lawsuit in state court, directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, challenging a constitutional amendment that denies respect for marriages legally performed in other states. On May 27, 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said it would not hear the case.

Case Background:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Katherine and Linda Halopka-Ivery, who hail from Milwaukee. The women married in San Diego, CA in December 2013 but have been living in Wisconsin for more than two years.

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