Some protections for couples, anti-relationship recognition constitutional amendment; a federal judge has ruled that the state's discriminatory amendment is unconstitutional, and that decision has been upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, with the ruling stayed and seeking review from the U.S. Supreme Court. 


On September 29, 2014, the United States Supreme Court will have its first chance to consider hearing this federal marriage case seeking the freedom to marry in Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin has appealed a September 4 ruling from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the freedom to marry, which upheld a lower court ruling from June 6 that declared it unconstitutional for Wisconsin to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

On June 6, 2014, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb overturned Wisconsin's discriminatory state ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said he will appeal the decision. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Wisconsin filed the federal lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker, seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples across the state of Wisconsin in February 2014. Read more about marriage litigation in Wisconsin.

State advocacy groups are working toward fairness for all of Wisconsin's families by overturning a constitutional amendment that prohibits relationship recognition for same-sex couples in the state.


In 2006, anti-gay forces in Wisconsin pushed through Referendum 1, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status. 

On June 29, 2009, Governor Jim Doyle signed a budget bill into law after it was approved by the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate. The budget bill included a domestic partnership allowance for same-sex couples. The domestic partnership law provides limited access to some of the protections that the freedom to marry affords. The limited domestic partnership law took effect on August 3, 2009.


  • Fair Wisconsin is Wisconsin's central statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization. 
  • The American Civil Liberties Union is a national legal organization working to bring civil rights to all Americans and is one of the organizations that has filed a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in Wisconsin. 
  • The ACLU of Wisconsin is a statewide legal organization working to bring civil rights to all Wisconsinites and is one of the organizations working on a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in Wisconsin. 
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.


Wisconsin is seeing a shift on marriage perspectives. Whereas an anti-gay marriage amendment passed in 2006 by a 19-point margin, recent polling finds that 51% of the state supports the freedom to marry now. (Wisconsin Gazette, April 2014)


According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 9,179 same-sex couples are living in Wisconsin, representing 4.0 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Blog Posts Related to Wisconsin

Marriage cases will be considered at first SCOTUS conference on 9/29

Today, September 10, 7 different petitions seeking certiorari in marriage cases from 5 states were distributed for the September 29 conference at the United States Supreme Court.

Wisconsin and Indiana urge Supreme Court to hear marriage cases

Today, September 9, less than one week after the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit unanimously affirmed lower court rulings striking down marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin, defendants in both cases filed their petitions for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

7th Circuit affirms freedom to marry in 4th federal appellate victory this summer

Today, September 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled unanimously in favor of the freedom to marry, affirming that in Wisconsin and Indiana, banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional.

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Resources Related to Wisconsin

Pew Poll Finds Growing Support for Freedom to Marry Among Evangelicals, Majority Support Among Youth

A comprehensive Pew poll found majority support for the freedom to marry among young people, college graduates and Catholics, with growing support among all other religious categories.

Wisconsin Census Snapshot

Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Wyoming.

Geographic Trends Among Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey

Groundbreaking research showing a huge increase in same-sex couples identifying themselves as "unmarried partners".

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